GARETH BALE is at the centre of a fitness battle between club and country ahead of the World Cup.
The Los Angeles FC forward, 33, completed his first 90 minutes in just over a year in Wales’ 1-0 Nations League loss to Poland on Sunday – which relegated them to League B.
Wales are set to hold talks with LAFC about Gareth Bale’s playing timeCredit: Getty
Bale’s club side want him raring to go in next month’s MLS play-offs but the Dragons are keen for their captain to be in peak condition for Qatar a month later.
Wales boss Robert Page says talks will be held in a bid to manage his talisman before the Group B opener against USA on November 21.
Page said: “There will be communication between both (Wales and LAFC). They want Gareth available for them and we want him in the best physical position we can for the first game against the USA.
“We will be in contact with them to make sure he is in the right place. He has gone from not playing that many minutes to 30 on Thursday to 90 minutes.
“We wouldn’t normally do that. Would I have wanted him to play 90 minutes? Probably not. But he is Gareth Bale and because of the importance of the game, we wanted to win it.
“And if you get a free-kick in the 92nd minute there is potential he could put it in the top corner so you are always going to want to keep him on the pitch.
“What he does from now until the first game against USA, we will be in contact with the club and help manage those minutes.
“LA are a good outfit, they will know exactly how to get him from where he is at this moment in time to full fitness which is 90 minutes week in week out.”
Page has alternative forward options in 6ft5 handful Kieffer Moore, who scored in a 2-1 defeat to Belgium last Thursday, while Brennan Johnson and Dan James add lightning pace to the attack.
Wales ended the Poland loss in Cardiff with all four attackers on the pitch as Bale moved deeper into a playmaker role and the scenario could pose the Dragons chief a selection headache in Qatar.
When asked if Bale could play off Moore rather than in a wide position, Page added: “Yeah, potentially.
“There was an argument to start Kieffer but when we looked at their weaknesses we thought pace could hurt them with the way Brennan has been playing and Dan James.
“Bringing Kieffer on gave us that option to play off the front. We could find Kieffer then set Gareth to play in behind.
“To do that we had to change to a back four, which we have done time and time again and we had a lot of success two years ago. It was good we could adapt to that and it got our four best forward players on the pitch.
“Potentially I think Gareth likes that position as a ten and it suits us with Brennan’s pace and athleticism outside him on the right.”
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