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Gareth Bale will not start Wales’ final group game against Belgium

Wales v Belarus – FIFA World Cup 2022 – European Qualifying – Group E – Cardiff City Stadium
(Image credit: Bradley Collyer)

Gareth Bale will not start Wales’ World Cup qualifier against Belgium on Tuesday – and could miss out altogether.

Bale won his 100th cap in the 5-1 victory over Belarus on Saturday after two months out with a hamstring injury but came off after 45 minutes.

The Wales captain trained on his own away from the main group on Monday.

Wales v Belarus – FIFA World Cup 2022 – European Qualifying – Group E – Cardiff City Stadium

Gareth Bale (centre) celebrates Wales’ second goal against Belarus on Saturday (Bradley Collyer/PA)

Wales will make a late decision on whether the Real Madrid forward and their record goalscorer makes the bench against the world’s top-ranked team.

Manager Robert Page: “He was never going to start against Belgium.

“We knew that coming into camp. The plan was always for him to get a half in the first game and then come on and maybe have an impact in the second game.”

On Bale’s recovery following the Belarus game, Page said: “He is going to be stiff. He has not played for a couple of months and to throw him in was a big ask from a physical point of view.

“He’ll recover on his own (on Monday) and we’ll leave it to the last minute to see if he can play minutes. He is getting there, slowly but surely. We will get him back to full fitness.

“It’s frustrating for him. He made a tremendous effort to get fit for the game and he takes credit for that.”

Wales are guaranteed a World Cup play-off spot in March through their Nations League results.

But Page’s side need at least a point against Belgium to finish second in the group above the Czech Republic and potentially secure a semi-final tie at home.

Wales v Denmark – UEFA Euro 2020 – Round of 16 – Johan Cruijff ArenA

Wales manager Robert Page will make a late decision on Gareth Bale’s involvement against Belgium (PA)

Wales are without the banned Ethan Amapdu but welcome back Kieffer Moore, who missed the Belarus win through suspension.

Cardiff striker Moore has scored seven goals since making his debut in September 2019, more than any other Wales player in that time.

Page said: “Kieffer’s a great player. His goalscoring record at international level is there for everyone to see.

“He’s a big part of what we want to do and he’ll absolutely feature.”

Wales v Switzerland – UEFA Euro 2020 – Group A – Baku Olympic Stadium

Kieffer Moore has scored more goals for Wales than anyone else since making his debut in 2019 (PA)

Belgium beat Wales 3-1 when the two sides met at the start of the campaign in March.

But Page says he took a lot of encouragement from that performance in Leuven when Harry Wilson finished off a superb team move to give Wales an early lead.

He said: “We showed away from home when we scored arguably one of our best ever goals what we’re capable of.

“When you look at the goals we conceded I think we could have done better with all three if I’m honest.

“We’ve addressed how we get pressure higher up the pitch and how we deal with the attacking threat that they pose.

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“They’ve got an abundance of talent but we’ve got the insurance policy of already having a play-off and we’ll take the game to them.

“We’re full of confidence after Saturday. We’ve got a plan and we’ll be fully ready for it.”

Belgium beat Estonia 3-1 on Saturday to win the group and qualify for next year’s World Cup finals in Qatar, their fifth successive major tournament.

But the injury-hit Red Devils will be without Real Madrid pair Eden Hazard and Thibaut Courtois in Cardiff, as well as Jason Denayer and Simon Mignolet.

Jeremy Doku, Michy Batshuayi, Romelu Lukaku, Toby Alderweireld, Thomas Vermaelen and Youri Tielemans had previously been ruled out.