Gareth Bale: Real Madrid forward ruled out of Wales World Cup qualifying campaign

Gareth Bale
Wales have not won a match without Gareth Bale since October 2013 against Macedonia
2018 World Cup qualifiers: Georgia v Wales
Venue: Boris Paichadze Dinamo Arena, Tblisi Date: Friday, 6 October Kick-off: 17:00 BST
Coverage: Live commentary on BBC Radio Wales, BBC Radio Cymru & BBC Sport website and BBC Sport app, plus live text commentary.

Real Madrid forward Gareth Bale has been ruled out of Wales' last two World Cup qualifiers against Georgia and the Republic of Ireland with a calf strain.

The 28-year-old could be out for a month and that could also rule Bale out of the play-offs on 9-14 November.

Wales are second in Group D and if they keep that spot it could be enough to earn them a place in the play-offs.

Bale joined the Wales squad on Monday and, despite sitting out training, it had been hoped he would be fit.

But a scan revealed the severity of the injury and means Bale will not travel to Georgia for Friday's game in Tblisi and will play no part in the Cardiff clash with Republic of Ireland three days later.

Real manager Zinedine Zidane had played down concerns about Bale's fitness, saying he rested him for Sunday's win over Espanyol as a precaution.

Real Madrid put out a medical update on Wednesday about Bale which included no details of a return date.

The statement said: "Following tests carried out on Gareth Bale, he has been diagnosed with swelling but no tear in the soleus muscle of his left leg. His recovery will be monitored."

Barnsley striker Tom Bradshaw has been called up to the Wales squad in Bale's place.

Bale's absence is a huge blow to Welsh hopes of qualifying for a first World Cup since 1958.

World Cup Qualifying Group D

Wales are second in Group D, trailing leaders Serbia by four points with two matches remaining.

Second place could be enough to earn Chris Coleman's team a place in the play-offs, which will see eight of the nine runners-up in qualifying groups play for four remaining places in Russia 2018.

In order to secure a play-off place, Wales would realistically need at least four points from the games against Georgia and the Republic of Ireland.

Their chances of doing so will be harmed by the injury to Bale, who has scored four goals so far in this campaign. Wales have failed to win a match without the Real Madrid forward since 2013, drawing three and losing three matches in his absence.

The former Tottenham player has also been in fine form for Real, scoring a brilliant goal in last week's 3-1 Champions League win over Borussia Dortmund before being forced off with the muscular problem which has sidelined him for this month's qualifiers.

Bale was in Cardiff on Monday to receive his players' player of the year award at the Football Association of Wales' annual ceremony.


BBC pundit and ex-Wales international Robbie Savage

For Wales to be without Gareth Bale for two massive games is devastating.

His passion and desire to play for Wales is there for all to see... it is a huge, huge blow.

It will all be on the last game with Ireland, I believe. A point in Georgia won't be a bad result for me now.

But even if Wales win their two games, that might not be enough. These are two of the biggest games in Welsh football history.

Fingers crossed the lads can go out there and perform, but it is going to be very, very difficult.

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