Wales v Serbia: Gareth Bale set to be introduced from the bench for World Cup qualifier
The Real Madrid winger has not played a competitive game this season
Tuesday 10 September 2013
Chris Coleman is prepared to throw Gareth Bale into the fray from the bench against Serbia tonight, even though the Wales boss admits he has concerns over the amount of protection his side get from referees.
Real Madrid star Bale, who has not played since mid-July, remains a doubt for the World Cup qualifier in Cardiff, despite taking a full part in training on the eve of the game, hours after undergoing a scan on a groin strain.
Coleman could be forgiven for electing not to risk Bale given his desire to build a strong relationship with the 24-year-old's new club, as well as the physical test posed by their visitors.
Coleman was also less than impressed by how his side were treated in defeat to Macedonia on Friday.
Roughhouse tactics from the hosts saw Aaron Ramsey receive an elbow in the throat and Jonathan Williams suffer an ankle injury in a poor challenge which is set to keep him sidelined for six weeks.
Coleman said: "We are not asking for more protection than the next team but we have got to get some.
"You can't have a player blatantly elbowing one of your players. We needed more protection than what we got.
"I'm not saying Gareth Bale needs extra protection, he just needs a fair crack of the whip.
"The type of football we play, we don't play fight football, we try to play nice football.
"Sometimes the opposition get annoyed with that.
"The challenges can get a bit naughty but that's what the referee is there for."
Bale will not start against Serbia, who themselves have a reputation as uncompromising opponents, but Coleman is more than prepared to use him as a substitute, provided he is fit.
He said: "If Gareth says to me he can play a part then he is coming onto the pitch. There is no way that he is not coming on to the pitch.
"If he had said to me before the Macedonia game he could play 20 minutes, then I would have put him on for 30, I would have pushed him a little.
"But I can't do that if he says to me he isn't ready.
"If there is any chance he can play for a second - it only takes a player a second to change your life - he will be on the pitch."
Coleman also has to decide who to name as captain with Ashley Williams suspended.
The in-form Ramsey, who held the captaincy before Williams was handed the armband, and Craig Bellamy are the leading contenders.
And Coleman admits the form the Arsenal midfielder is in, shows he will regain the leadership role.
He said: "I can't deny Aaron is not a potential captain, because his form is magnificent, he's running the game.
"Last year I gave the armband to Ashley Williams because I thought it was on top of Aaron.
"But I always believed one day Aaron would be the captain again and go on to lead Wales.
"From where he was last year to now, mentally he's in a different place."
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