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Gareth Bale will NOT start for Wales in crunch World Cup qualifier against Belgium with calf injury picked up vs Belarus

WALES will give Gareth Bale until the last minute to prove he is fit to play some part in their crunch World Cup qualifier against Belgium on Tuesday. Dragons boss Rob Page has confirmed the Real Madrid superstar will NOT be ready to start against Roberto Martinez’s side in Cardiff. He is feeling the effects […] ...

WALES will give Gareth Bale until the last minute to prove he is fit to play some part in their crunch World Cup qualifier against Belgium on Tuesday.

Dragons boss Rob Page has confirmed the Real Madrid superstar will NOT be ready to start against Roberto Martinez’s side in Cardiff.

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Bale won his 100th cap for Wales in the game against Belarus in Cardiff[/caption]

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But was taken off at half time as a precaution[/caption]

He is feeling the effects of his 45 minute run-out against Belarus on Saturday when he also picked up a minor calf complaint.

However the hope is Bale will take his place on the bench as his country go in search of the point they need to secure second place in the group.

Ideally Wales could do with winning the game to ensure a home draw in the play-offs in March – and to avoid the likes of Portugal.

Page said: “Gareth is going to be stiff, he’s not played at any level for a couple of months, so to throw him in on Saturday was big ask.

“He’s done his own recovery and we leave it until the last minute to see if he’s able to play any minutes.

“He was never going to start. The plan was always for him to get half and then maybe come on and have impact in second.

“So we are giving him some tender loving care and we’ll make the decision late on.”

Bale had not played for club or country since early September but was in the starting line-up to win his 100th cap on Saturday.

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He did not re-appear after the break and Page said: “He’s getting there, slowly but surely.

“It’s just frustrating for him, he knew he wasn’t 100%. He takes credit for effort he made but he knows he’s not anywhere near what he could be.”

Wales have proved during the current campaign they can still perform without their captain and talisman. 

They secured an excellent draw in Prague last month when Bale was out injured – and Page is hoping for that kind of effort. 

He said: “With Gareth we are a really good team but without him we can create chances and score. 

“That was one of our best performances in the game against the Czechs so that’s really encouraging.”

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