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Wales ready to test Spain regardless of Bale’s fitness

Cardiff, Wednesday

Spain might not have to face Gareth Bale in Thursday’s glamour friendly, but Wales striker Sam Vokes insists the Real Madrid star’s absence won’t give the visitors an easy ride in Cardiff.

Bale is struggling with a groin injury after aggravating the problem during Real’s defeat at Alaves on Saturday.

The 29-year-old also missed Real’s Champions League tie at CSKA Moscow last week with the same issue and sat out Wales’ training session when he arrived for international duty on Monday.

Given his links with both countries, Bale would relish playing against Spain, who feature several of his Real team-mates, in the first meeting between the teams since 1985.

But with Wales having a more significant Nations League tie against the Republic of Ireland in Dublin on October 16, Bale his country’s record goalscorer is likely to be rested against Spain to give him extra time to recover. Even with Bale potentially on the sidelines, Burnley’s Vokes is certain Wales will show they are more than a one-man band.

“Gareth is massive for us, but we’ve got a lot of players playing at top level now,” Vokes said.

“They are playing regularly as well and that can only help us.

“If there are players missing there are others ready to step in.”

Vokes’ confidence is built on the foundations laid by Ryan Giggs since he succeeded Chris Coleman as Wales manager in January.

Wales produced one of their best performances in recent years when they thrashed the Republic 4-1 in their Nations League opener last month.

Their second taste of the competition, a 2-0 defeat in Denmark three days later, was not so productive for former Manchester United winger Giggs, who has won two and drawn one of his five matches.

But Giggs’ tenure, notable for his use of emerging young talent, has already sparked enough enthusiasm to convince Welsh FA chiefs to schedule the Spain fixture for the 74,500-capacity Principality Stadium their first appearance there since 2011.   -AFP

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