Wales manager Chris Coleman has risked the wrath of Real Madrid by suggesting the Spanish club have thrown Gareth Bale in at the deep end.
Bale was named in Coleman's Wales squad to face Macedonia and Belgium, and then rapidly withdrawn due to the thigh injury which is set to sideline him for two weeks.
The 24-year-old has made just three appearances for Real since his world-record move from Tottenham, and there was some surprise when his name was included in the 23-man panel selected by Coleman for the upcoming World Cup double-header.
Coleman quickly explained Bale was not fit to take part, and that he had been included in the vain hope he may have been in a position to be involved.
But the former Fulham boss suggested Wales' star man has not been handled as he should have been after missing nearly all of pre-season with abdominal and foot injuries.
''We have spoken to the doctor and we will be without him, but we said all along it is very tough for him to have had no pre-season and be thrown in at the deep end," said Coleman.
He added: "I would never criticise another manager - Carlo Ancelotti is a brilliant manager - but La Liga football is a different tempo to the Premier League. The Premier League is the fastest so maybe Carlo is thinking Gareth can handle it, he's a super athlete.
"But in our last camp he was nowhere near fit. He had a reaction on the morning of the Macedonia game, that is why we only used him for 35 minutes against Serbia last month.
"You have to put things in perspective. What has happened to him with the move, he must feel under pressure.
"He is probably trying too hard to do things that come naturally to him. Physically he is not there, he is not ready and he might not be for some time.