Former Real Madrid head coach John Toshack has said in an interview on Spanish radio that Gareth Bale's repeated injuries could be down to his playing position at Los Blancos.
Bale has chiefly been used on the right of attack since joining Real from Tottenham Hotspur, and his fellow Welshman told Cadena SER on Tuesday that the predominantly left-sided winger's resulting habit of kicking the ball with the outside of his favoured foot could be a factor in his frequent muscle injuries.
Ex-Wales boss Toshack, who gave Bale his international debut in 2006, also discussed the country's failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, and assessed the impact of Bale's absence from Monday's decisive Group D defeat to the Republic of Ireland.
Toshack's Cadena SER interview:
Wales eliminated from World Cup qualification: "With Wales not even in the play-offs and completely out of it, everyone's sad."
Going from Euro 2016 semi-finalists to missing out on the World Cup: "In the Euros, people didn't know too much about Wales. But after reaching the semi-finals, people have taken a look at them and studied them. And of the 10 games we played [in qualification], we drew five. We only lost one, but drew five - that's 10 points that have gone begging."
Would it have been different against Ireland with Bale on the field? "Possibly, yes. For Wales and for the morale of his team-mates, Gareth is tremendously important. So this injury that he's picked up has very likely affected people's morale here. It's a shame, but there you go."
Were you surprised that Bale wasn't included on the 30-man Ballon d'Or shortlist? "No, [although] I don't know who the people are who choose these things and, to be honest, I don't take too much notice of these rankings of the best players, the best teams..."
Could Bale's repeated injuries be more of a psychological issue? "Either you're injured or you're not; I don't think it's a mental question. If the tests say that he has a problem and the player can't run, it isn't a psychological issue."
Playing on the right for Real as a possible reason for his injuries: "I remember talking to Gareth a while ago about the way he hits the ball with the outside of his left foot. Gareth had always been a player who played on the left and now if he's playing on the other side... Gareth was a left-back and he'd always played on the left. I've never seen [Paolo] Maldini or Roberto Carlos or [Giacinto] Facchetti playing on the right wing. And maybe that has something to do with it."
Are all these interruptions seeing him overtaken at Real? "Probably, yes. If you miss around 30% of the games... It has to be terribly frustrating for him."
The end of the Bale-Benzema-Cristiano strikeforce: "The BBC face a lot of difficulties now. I don't think we're going to see a lot of the BBC in the future."
Would it best for Bale to move to another club? "The people at Real Madrid know more about that than me. Gareth made his [Wales] debut under me at 17, and now he's 28. The next three or four years are meant to be the best years of his career. The demands at Real are very high, and if you're not at 100% physically, it's harder still."