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Coleman wary of risking Bale

Wales manager Chris Coleman has promised that Gareth Bale will not be risked against Croatia if the Tottenham midfielder is not fully fit.

The 23-year-old lasted just 45 minutes against Scotland on Friday, having to be replaced at half-time after aggravating an ankle injury.

A win for Wales on Tuesday would put Coleman’s side four points behind Croatia, who currently occupy second spot in Group A.

“We only had Gareth for 45 minutes – and albeit a jaded Gareth Bale,” Coleman told reporters.

“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. He had another knock after 30-35 minutes on the same ankle, so we had to bring him off.

“I don’t know if he will be okay. I’m not sitting on the fence but the next 24 hours will be crucial. 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.”

Sun 24 March, 2013
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