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Bale left out of Wales squad

Gareth Bale has been left out of Wales' squad to face Northern Ireland and Ukraine in international friendlies later this month.

The Real Madrid winger was not in manager Chris Coleman's list of 26 names to host Northern Ireland on March 24 and travel to Ukraine on March 28.

Coleman revealed the decision had been made in collaboration with Zinedine Zidane's side, with only three matches under Bale's belt since he recovered from a calf problem that had kept him out for six weeks.

"It was a joint decision and Real Madrid have been absolutely first class," said Coleman.

"Both parties think it is best that he stays where he is. He will benefit from that between now and the end of the season. 

"Since he has been at Real Madrid, what has he scored - seven goals in 10 games? It has been his best form for us.

"If he is not here, it's because it's not possible for him to be here. It's better for us that he is out there. The tempo of La Liga is lower and less taxing. 

"You can't blame a club if they are annoyed you have pushed a player, but we have never, ever done that."

Bale's wife is also expected to imminently give birth, which is why the 26-year-old will not even join Wales for a training appearance during the international break.

Coleman added: "Gareth might have come to the camp but his wife is ready to give birth any time soon and that also takes precedent, otherwise he might have come into the camp. 

"He has done that before but this time it's not possible."


Wales squad to face Northern Ireland and Ukraine:

Goalkeepers: Wayne Hennessey (Crystal Palace), Danny Ward (Liverpool), Owain Fon Williams (Inverness CT).

Defenders: James Chester (West Brom), Ben Davies (Tottenham), Chris Gunter (Reading), Adam Henley (Blackburn Rovers), Adam Matthews (Bristol City), Jazz Richards (Fulham), Neil Taylor (Swansea City), Ashley Williams (Swansea City).

Midfielders: Joe Allen (Liverpool), David Cotterill (Birmingham City), Andrew Crofts (Brighton), Lloyd Isgrove (Barnsley), Emyr Huws (Huddersfield), Joe Ledley (Crystal Palace), Shaun MacDonald (Bournemouth), David Vaughan (Nottingham Forest), Jonathan Williams (MK Dons).

Forwards: Tom Bradshaw (Walsall), Simon Church (Aberdeen), Hal Robson-Kanu (Reading), Tom Lawrence (Cardiff City), Sam Vokes (Burnley), George Williams (Gillingham).