Wales manager Chris Coleman is ready to play Gareth Bale as a striker in their Euro 2016 qualification opener in Andorra.
Bale is more accustomed to featuring on the flanks at Real Madrid, but with the Dragons lacking a reliable frontman, he looks set to find himself leading the line against the Group B minnows.
The move comes with Real manager Carlo Ancelotti reportedly keen to try the 25-year-old in a more central role. Coleman said: “It is no secret we could play Gareth down the middle. We have thought about that and he will figure in this campaign in more than one position.
“We have lost Sam Vokes to injury and Simon Church is not playing regularly for Charlton.
“I have seen Gareth play everywhere. He has played left-back, wing-back, left midfield and across the front three. I watched him in Madrid a few weeks ago and he started on the right, moved to the left and then came into the middle. He can play anywhere.
“He is a devastating offensive player wherever he plays, we know if we get him the ball in the right areas he can be a matchwinner for us.”
The new 3G pitch at Andorra’s Camp d’Esports del M.I. Consell General has been the main talking point in the build-up to the game with the playing surface passed fit for use by Uefa only last week.
Real Madrid are thought to have had reservations about the world’s most expensive player featuring on the surface, but Coleman insists he has had no letter asking for Bale to be left out, as Angel Di Maria claimed he received ahead of the World Cup final.
He said yesterday: “There has been no letter from Madrid. If there are, I’ll wait until Wednesday morning before opening them.
“I went out there two weeks ago and had a great welcome.Carlo Ancelotti was magnificent. He is a fantastic guy who has achieved many special things and shows how to behave. They were really accommodating and the medical team were brilliant with us. We have never had any obstacles from them.”
The pitch did not look in the best of condition as Wales held their final training session last night, but Coleman is adamant it cannot be used as an excuse if the visitors fail to pick up three points.
“I’m not interested in the pitch. I’m interested in getting home on Wednesday morning with the points in the bag and a platform and we can take it from there,” he said.
“Right now, this is the biggest game in the campaign. How we do it, doesn’t matter. We just want the win.”
Andorra have never picked up a point in European Championship qualifying and have lost their last 44 competitive matches.
So, on paper, Wales could hardly have wished for an easier opening to their bid to end a 58-year wait to reach a major finals.
There is a palpable sense of expectation among supporters, players and staff as the campaign gets under way this evening.
Coleman is comfortable with those high expectation levels as he looks to erase the hurt of his involvement in the Wales squads which went so close to qualification for World Cup 1994 and Euro 2004.
He said: “Two years ago, I would have been wary of that expectation, but not now, I don’t blame people for having high expectations. If we deal with it, we’ll do the business.
“I’ve been involved in campaigns as a player where you think you are going to do it and you don’t and that is very hard.
“Those games where we lost to Romania in 1993 and Russia in 2003, it’s not nice and that is what drives me on.
“We are good enough if we take ownership and responsibility for the job in hand.”Reuse content