Gareth Bale is on track to play in Wales’ crunch Euro 2016 ties against Bosnia-Herzegovina and Andorra, Chris Coleman has promised.
Coleman has named Bale in his 25-man squad for the final two Group B qualifiers, with Wales needing only one point to end a 58-year wait to play at a major tournament in France next summer.
Bale has missed Real Madrid’s last three games with a calf injury but is set to return against derby rivals Atletico Madrid on Sunday.
However, Coleman says he will select Bale for the Bosnia game in Zenica on October 10, even if the 26-year-old links up with the Wales squad having not played a single minute for Real since suffering the injury on September 15.
“Gareth has been incredibly important for us, so we don’t want to be going into these two games without him,” Coleman said
“The news out of Madrid is positive and at the moment we’re very hopeful and looking forward to having him on board.
“Hopefully he gets a game in before he comes to us, but I don’t know whether Rafa (Benitez, Real manager) plans to start him or use him as a substitute this weekend.
“But if he meets up with us then I’ll be looking to play him in Bosnia, and hopefully that’s on the back of him getting some minutes in the Madrid derby.”
Bale has been directly involved in eight of Wales’ nine goals, scoring six of them, for Coleman’s side to top the Group B standings and move tantalisingly close to their first major tournament since the 1958 World Cup.
But Coleman insists he has not contemplated the idea of resting Bale from the Bosnia game to ensure he is fully fit for the visit of group whipping boys Andorra in Cardiff three days later.
“I’m not thinking about Andorra, I’m thinking about getting a result in Bosnia and we need our strongest team on the pitch,” Coleman said.
“Of course, Gareth’s right in the middle of that. If he’s with us I’m looking for him to start against Bosnia and hopefully that’s on the back of him getting some minutes in the derby.
“That derby game is a tough one, I’ve seen a few of them, and it will be frantic but it will also be good for Gareth physically.
“Gareth’s a machine and will be able to handle it. He can take the hits in a game like that.”
As well as the positive Bale bulletin, Coleman has been able to welcome Joe Allen back into his squad.
The Liverpool midfielder missed last month’s double-header against Cyprus and Israel with a hamstring injury and his stabilising influence was missed, even though Wales collected four points from those two qualifiers.
But Coleman says he is unsure whether Allen will be fit enough to feature in both games against Bosnia and Andorra.
“Joe had an hour (in the Capital One Cup) the other week and he’s doing well physically,” Coleman said.
“The way we want to play he’s very important to us, linking the play up from our defence and breaking the lines.
“It’s great to have him around the place and we must not forget his outstanding performances at home to Belgium and away to Israel.
“But is he going to be fit for two games? I don’t know.
“I’m told he’s fit enough for us to include him in the squad and hopefully give him some time on the pitch.
“He’s not had a lot of minutes on the pitch for Liverpool, but they wouldn’t let us have Joe if they didn’t think he could take part in these two games in some form.”
Wales squad: Hennessey (Crystal Palace), Fon Williams (Inverness), Ward (Liverpool); A Williams (Swansea, capt), Chester (West Brom), Gunter (Reading), Taylor (Swansea), Davies (Tottenham), Collins (West Ham), Henley (Blackburn), Richards (Fulham), Vaughan (Nottingham Forest), Huws (Wigan), Allen (Liverpool), Ledley (Crystal Palace), Ramsey (Arsenal), King (Leicester), Edwards (Wolves), J Williams (Crystal Palace), Cotterill (Birmingham), Robson-Kanu (Reading), Lawrence (Leicester), Bale (Real Madrid), Church (MK Dons), Vokes (Burnley).