Wales must beat Georgia and the Republic of Ireland without Gareth Bale

04 October 2017 10:54

Wales must turn the tide of history and overcome Gareth Bale's absence if they are to keep their World Cup dream alive.

Bale will miss Wales' final two 2018 World Cup qualifiers against Georgia and the Republic of Ireland following dialogue with his club Real Madrid and a scan on an injured calf, which revealed he is not fit to feature.

Wales fear the calf strain could sideline Bale for the next month, possibly even jeopardising his participation if they were to reach the November play-offs.

But the immediate concerns are short-term with Friday's trip to Tbilisi and the home game against the Republic three days later set to determine their position in Group D.

Wales need to win both games to have a realistic shot of reaching the play-offs, but their record without Bale makes dismal reading and offers the Republic hope that they can overtake them in the race for second spot.

They have not won once in the last 10 games that the 28-year-old talisman has missed, while they have not triumphed in a competitive game without him for nearly four years.

However, Derby striker Tom Lawrence - who is expected to feature against Georgia and the Republic - insists Wales will not be fazed by the loss of Bale after their battling 1-1 draw against Serbia in June.

Bale missed that game through suspension, yet Wales were within 17 minutes of beating the group leaders in Belgrade before Aleksandar Mitrovic equalised.

"He's a big loss, but that doesn't faze us," Lawrence said. "We've been without him before and will deal with it again.

"It's obviously a massive loss because he's a great player who plays for Real Madrid.

"But we've got a strong squad and whoever comes in needs to step and do a job.

"We've got a good group and they will want to put a shift in."

Wales are not short of attacking options after calling up Ba rnsley striker Tom Bradshaw to replace Bale.

Liverpool teenager Ben Woodburn made a dramatic international bow last month when he scored the winner on his debut against Austria and then set up the opening goal in a 2-0 win in Moldova three days later.

Lawrence, Hal Robson-Kanu, Sam Vokes and new boy David Brooks provide further forward options, while Aaron Ramsey - who will his 50th cap in Tbilisi - c ould be pushed into a more advanced role behind the main striker.

Source: PA


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