Gareth Bale won’t start against Belgium, while Hazard and Courtois out
Gareth Bale will not start Wales’ World Cup qualifier against Belgium on Tuesday – and there are doubts over whether he will play at all.
However, Wales will be bolstered by the news that many of Belgium’s first choice players will be absent from the game at the Cardiff City Stadium tomorrow evening.
Bale won his 100th cap in the 5-1 victory over Belarus on Saturday after two months out with a hamstring injury but came off after 45 minutes.
The Wales captain trained on his own away from the main group on Monday.
Wales will make a late decision on whether the Real Madrid forward and their record goalscorer makes the bench against the world’s top-ranked team.
Manager Robert Page told the Press Association: “He was never going to start against Belgium.
“We knew that coming into camp. The plan was always for him to get a half in the first game and then come on and maybe have an impact in the second game.”
On Bale’s recovery following the Belarus game, Page said: “He is going to be stiff. He has not played for a couple of months and to throw him in was a big ask from a physical point of view.
“He’ll recover on his own (on Monday) and we’ll leave it to the last minute to see if he can play minutes. He is getting there, slowly but surely. We will get him back to full fitness.
“It’s frustrating for him. He made a tremendous effort to get fit for the game and he takes credit for that.”
Wales are guaranteed a World Cup play-off spot in March through their Nations League results.
But Page’s side need at least a point against Belgium to finish second in the group and potentially secure a semi-final tie at home.
Meanwhile Bale’s Real Madrid teammates Eden Hazard and Thibaut Courtois will play no part for Belgium in tomorrow’s World Cup qualifier having left the Red Devils camp to return to the Spanish giants.
Belgium will also be without a number of regular first team stars including talismanic striker Romelu Lukaku, alongside Michy Batshuayi, Youri Tielemans, Jeremy Doku, Thomas Vermaelen, Toby Alderweireld, Jason Denayer and Simon Mignolet.