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Monday, March 25, 2013
Bale trains ahead of Croatia clash

Kevin Palmer

Wales talisman Gareth Bale has trained with his national team colleagues ahead of Tuesday night's World Cup qualifier against Croatia in Swansea.

Bale could play only 45 minutes of Friday night's game against Scotland at Hampden Park as a combination of a stomach bug and an ankle injury resulted in his exit, forcing boss Chris Coleman to concede he may be a doubt for the Croatia clash.

Yet it seems the Tottenham midfielder is winning his fitness battle in time for the game at the Liberty Stadium, after the Welsh FA posted photographs of Bale training with his Wales team-mates.

Coleman has insisted he will not risk Bale unless he is fully fit to start against Group A rivals Croatia, as he has stated he owes it to Tottenham to be cautious with their prize asset as they look to finish their Premier League campaign on a high.

"We only had Gareth for 45 minutes against Scotland, albeit a jaded Gareth Bale," stated Coleman said. "He's been ill and had a knock on his ankle, but he wanted to play. He said he felt fine so that's why we started him.

"All we can do is wrap him up in cotton wool. If he is not ready, then we can't risk him. We won't because we have to be fair to Tottenham. They never stand in his way and he always comes along. Gareth likes to come, but we have to look after him."

Victory for Wales against Croatia will edge them back into contention for a top-two finish in their World Cup qualifying group, but they remain a long way off the pace in Group A after a sluggish start to their campaign.

Tottenham will be hoping Bale emerges from his week with Wales in one piece as they need him to be at his best for another game at the Liberty Stadium, against Swansea in the Premier League next weekend.

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