Real Madrid star Gareth Bale has been named in Wales’s squad for their World cup qualifiers thus putting to rest initial talks about his international retirement.
The 32-year-old hinted ahead of Euro 2020 duty that he could be writing the final chapters in a career with his country that has delivered 96 caps.
He has, however, “got the bug back” and national team coach Rob Page expects a talismanic figure to remain part of his plans through to the 2022 World Cup.
Page, who guided Wales to the last-16 of this summer’s European Championship, has told Sky Sports of having a happy Bale available: “It’s great news. You want all your players playing competitive football when they come on camp.
“To get any of your players playing week in, week out is a bonus, but when you’ve got Gareth playing now and finding he’s got the bug back again, which I saw in some of his performances for Tottenham at the back end of last season, is great news for us.”
Pressed further on whether he ever discussed the retirement talk with Bale, Page added: “Not at all.
“He’s got a hunger to play week in, week out for his club and he’s got an absolute hunger and desire to play for Wales, and as long as I can see that in his performances then there’s going to be no issues whatsoever.”
A man that became the most expensive player on the planet when joining Real in 2013 is only tied to a contract at club level through to next summer, with many suggesting that he could hang up his boots then.
Page, though, is confident that an ambitious performer will extend his career beyond that point – especially as the next World Cup in Qatar will not take place until the winter of 2022.
He added: “As a player, manager, you want to be part of a World Cup. The boys will go down in history if they qualify. Of course he [Bale] is going to want to be a part of that.
“He’s no different, but to do that you just can’t turn up and play for Wales. You’ve got to give it your best and play for your club. There’s no argument there, he’s ticking all the boxes.”
Wales, who are set to take in a friendly date with Finland on September 1, have qualifying clashes approaching against Belarus and Estonia with three points taken from their opening two games in Group E.
Wales squad in full
Goalkeepers: Hennessey, Ward, A Davies.
Defenders: B Davies, Gunter, Rodon, Ampadu, N Williams, Lockyer, Lawrence, Norrington-Davies.
Midfielders: Ramsey, Allen, J Williams, Wilson, Brooks, Morrell, Smith, Levitt, Thomas, Colwill.
Forwards: Bale, James, Moore, T Roberts, Johnson.
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