Wales boss Chris Coleman considering striker role for Gareth Bale
Wales take on Austria tonight
Wednesday 06 February 2013
Gareth Bale is set to feature in his familiar wing role for Wales against Austria tonight, but manager Chris Coleman is prepared to field the Tottenham man as a striker in a bid to end a chronic goal shortage.
Bale, 23, has been in sensational form of late, scoring stunning goals in his last two club outings against Norwich and West Brom.
His scoring exploits have been such that Tottenham boss Andre Villas-Boas has himself considered moving Bale up front, with Jermain Defoe and Emmanuel Adebayor currently unavailable.
He is also the only player to have scored for Wales in the seven games since Coleman was named as Gary Speed's successor, scoring a consolation in the 6-1 hammering in Serbia, and a crucial double in the 2-1 win over Scotland.
And Coleman said: "Gareth will not start up front against Austria, but it is something I'm actively considering for the future.
"You have to score goals to win matches and it's a role he could perform, without any shadow of a doubt.
"He could even perform the role of a false nine, so to speak, the system Spain have used, and Barcelona also play that way from time to time with Lionel Messi.
"Could I see Gareth doing that for us, too? Yes I could."
Wherever Bale plays, Austria manager Marcel Koller is well aware of the threat he poses.
He said: "Bale is the key player for Wales, especially in terms of his offensive play. We have to work together to try and stop him, rather than having one player man-marking him.
"He is extremely fast and has very good technique."
While Bale faces the Austrians high on confidence, his international colleague Joe Allen is hoping he can start to turn around a dip in form.
The 22-year-old midfielder enjoyed an impressive start to life at Liverpool after completing his £15million summer move from Swansea.
But a failure to maintain those high standards has seen the Welshman relegated to a place on the bench in recent weeks.
Allen is honest enough to admit some of the flak that has come his way as a result has been justified, but is hoping to bounce back when he wins his 13th cap at the Liberty Stadium.
He said: "Everyone knows my form hasn't been great. That goes without saying. It's been disappointing not to have been involved in every game and play every game.
"But it's up to me now to work hard and get myself back in the team and improve my level of performance.
"It happens to everyone in football. We all have highs and lows. But I'm excited and looking forward to turning that around at some stage in the near future.
"I'm delighted to be back with the Wales squad, I am looking forward to hopefully being involved on Wednesday and I will try to put in a good performance if I do play."
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