World Cup news

Bale fit for Croatia clash

March 26, 2013
By ESPN staff

Chris Coleman has confirmed Gareth Bale is fit for Wales' World Cup qualifier against Croatia on Tuesday night.

Gareth Bale is a doubt for Wales' World Cup qualifier against Croatia
GettyImagesWales will need Gareth Bale at his best on Tuesday

• Williams: We can still qualify

Bale was substituted at half-time during the Dragons' 2-1 victory against Scotland on Friday, having been struck down by a virus in the days leading up to the game. There were also fears that a strong tackle from Grant Hanley had aggravated an ankle injury that had originally left the Tottenham man doubtful for the match in Glasgow.

However, the winger trained with his Wales' team-mates on Sunday and Monday, and Coleman says he should be fit for a starting berth on Tuesday.

"He's trained well so I think he's in a lot better nick than he was going into the Scotland game. I think he should be okay," Coleman told Sky Sports News.

With Wales currently seven points behind Croatia in Group C it is vital for Coleman's side to secure a result in Swansea. He will be without the suspended Aaron Ramsey, while Joe Allen is also missing through injury.

And if the Dragons are to come out on top, Coleman feels they must find a way to stop the "genius" of Luka Modric, with the Real Madrid midfielder inspiring his side to victory the last time the two nations met.

"He was outstanding. It didn't matter what we did with him. The surface of the pitch was awful and he was still picking the ball up in his own half, creating, switching the play. He was phenomenal, it was a great performance from a quality player," Coleman said.

"On his day he is unstoppable, just like our boy Gareth Bale. The warning signs were there, he is a terrific player. He can play deep, take the ball off his back four, he can play the last pass into the striker, he can affect the game in all areas of the pitch. It is genius to be fair.''

Despite having to come up against a talent such as Modric, Coleman can rest assured that he has his own match-winner in Bale, and the Wales boss is expecting an intriguing clash between the pair.

"Sometimes when great players are on that form it is very difficult to stop them,'' he said. "If they have the capacity to do what a Bale or Modric can do it is very difficult when they are in the mood.

"I think Ronaldo and Messi are at the top and then you have a bunch of players behind them - Modric and Bale are two of them. They are in good company. It will be interesting to see what happens, especially if they are both playing centrally.''

Information from the Press Association was used in this report