Gareth Bale facing transatlantic dash to reach Wales camp before Belgium clash

·3-min read

Gareth Bale is at risk of missing Wales’ Nations League game in Belgium, despite making plans for a transatlantic dash to join Robert Page’s squad.

Bale is due to be playing for his MLS club Los Angeles FC in the early hours of Monday morning UK time, and will not arrive in Wales until Tuesday.

Wales will train at their Vale of Glamorgan base on Wednesday before flying to Brussels for their penultimate Nations League tie the following evening.

Wales v Netherlands – UEFA Nations League – Group A4 – Cardiff City Stadium
Wales captain Gareth Bale joined Los Angeles FC this summer after nine years at Real Madrid (Zac Goodwin/PA)

Boss Page said: “We haven’t gone into the detail of it yet, but all we know is he will be affected by it.

“He is not going to land until Tuesday and we have to get him from Heathrow.

“There will be a lot of planning as regards to, ‘is he going to be ready for the first game against Belgium?’

“If not, obviously then we might have to leave it for the Poland game.

Robert Page file photo
Wales manager Robert Page says he is not “overly concerned” by Bale’s lack of game time in the United States ahead of the World Cup (Mike Egerton/PA)

“But his safety and health is the most important thing, so we will have to manage that.

“We want him in top condition, we don’t want him fatigued going into games and running the risk of injury.”

Despite being in the United States for less than three months, Bale already boasts the top-selling jersey in the entire MLS.

But the Wales captain has made a slow start on the pitch at LAFC after his trophy-laden nine-year spell at Real Madrid ended this summer.

He has made 10 appearances Stateside, but started only twice, and has yet to play 90 minutes for his new club.

In just over five hours of football, Bale has scored twice as he builds up his fitness ahead of the World Cup in November.

Page said: “He’s playing minutes. We want him to play more minutes, of course, but I’m not overly concerned.

“Whatever minutes he plays I know when he comes on camp, even if he doesn’t play, that he will be ready to play for us.

“We are not going to jeopardise him. We’re going to the World Cup.

“We want to stay in the (Nations League) division, but we won’t be silly with it and push him.

“We will have to manage that with the time difference and jet lag. We will get him on camp, assess him and make a plan.”

Wales finish their Nations League programme against Poland in Cardiff on September 25, three days after the Belgium game.

It will be their final match before the World Cup, with Wales probably needing to beat Poland to keep their place in the top tier of the Nations League.

Page, who signed a four-year contract this week to be in charge of the Euro 2024 and 2026 World Cup qualifying campaigns, expects 33-year-old Bale to be around for some time yet.

He said: “We want Gareth to stay involved as long as he can. He can have an influence on the younger players at every camp.

“I don’t think there is going to be a mass of six or seven players leaving (after the World Cup).

“They respect the culture so much, they don’t want it to have a severe impact.”