Wales defender Ben Davies believes Gareth Bale’s commitment to the national team has fuelled their push for Euro 2016 qualification, describing the Real Madrid attacker as a “once in a lifetime” talent.
Chris Coleman’s side visit Cyprus on Thursday and victory in Nicosia, along with a win against Israel in Cardiff on Sunday, could be enough to see Wales into their first major tournament since the 1958 World Cup.
Bale has scored five of Wales’ eight goals in Group B and Tottenham full-back Davies believes it is difficult to overestimate his contribution.
“Gareth has been phenomenal,” he said. “To have a player like him in your team comes along once in a lifetime.
“We can clearly see how important he has been for us in this campaign and hopefully he can keep it going.
“Seeing somebody like him willing to put the graft in for his country in every single game, and the quality of his performances, ups everybody else’s game all over the pitch.
“He sets the standard and we are all trying to reach it to be as good a team as we can.
“If the rest of us have to feed him and he puts the ball in the back of the net we’d happily do that all day if it gets us to the Euros.”
For Wayne Hennessey, the fixture signals a personal milestone.
The Crystal Palace man is set to become only the third goalkeeper to achieve 50 international caps for Wales, following in the footsteps of Neville Southall and Paul Jones.
“To get to 50 caps, especially with the [knee] injury I had, is a fantastic honour and a great achievement,” he added. “It’s a huge week to get there because there’s a lot of press with Wales at the moment, we’ve never really had it before but we’re thriving on it.
“A lot of players bounce off it and so they should – the talent is there and most of them are playing in the Premier League week in week out.”
Wales triumphed 2-1 when the sides met at Cardiff City Stadium in October, holding on for victory after Andy King was sent off two minutes into the second half.
Subsequent victories over Israel and Belgium, as well as a goalless draw in Brussels, have put Wales on the brink of history and lifted them into the top 10 of the FIFA rankings.
However, Wales have lost on their last two trips to Cyprus and Coleman will be keen to avoid a slip-up.
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