Injured Bale out of Wales World Cup qualifiers

London: Gareth Bale has been ruled out of Wales’s final two crucial World Cup qualifiers against Georgia and Ireland, Britain’s Press Association reported on Tuesday. Bale’s fitness has been a source of concern for the national side since he suffered a calf muscle strain against Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League last week. The 28-year-old missed Real Madrid’s league clash with Espanyol on Sunday but reported to the Wales camp the following morning.

Wales are currently second in Group D, four points behind leaders Serbia and one point above Ireland. Two wins in the matches on Friday, away to Georgia, and next Monday, at home to Ireland, are likely to guarantee them at least a place in next month’s play-offs for a place in Russia. Bale’s absence could open the door for Liverpool teenager Ben Woodburn to make his first Wales start. The 17-year-old made a dramatic introduction last month when he scored the winner within five minutes of coming on as a second-half substitute against Austria. — AFP