Gareth Bale: Not right to risk Wales star, says Chris Coleman

WORLD CUP 2014 QUALIFYING, GROUP A: WALES V SERBIA

  • Venue: Cardiff City Stadium
  • Date: Tuesday, 10 September
  • Kick-off: 19:45 BST

Coverage: Live commentary on BBC Radio Wales, BBC Radio Cymru and online; highlights on Match of the Day Wales on BBC Two Wales at 23:20 BST

Wales manager Chris Coleman says he was not prepared to risk Gareth Bale in their 2-1 defeat away by Macedonia.

World-record signing Bale was named on the bench for the World Cup qualifying loss in Skopje, which finally ended Wales' slim hopes of making the finals.

But despite that, Coleman said Bale's lack of match fitness after injury meant he was never going to play.

"We cannot risk Gareth Bale or any of our players, we've got to send them back to their clubs," Coleman said.

"He's only probably trained three or four times in the last two months.

"He's such an athlete and he wanted to come. He came the evening of his unveiling in Madrid, he's trained the next day, he's trained three days - he's not ready.

Wales results under Coleman

  • Mexico 2-0 Wales (friendly)
  • Wales 0-2 Bosnia-Herzegovina (friendly)
  • Wales 0-2 Belgium (WCQ)
  • Serbia 6-1 Wales (WCQ)
  • Wales 2-1 Scotland (WCQ)
  • Croatia 2-0 Wales (WCQ)
  • Wales 2-1 Austria (friendly)
  • Scotland 1-2 Wales (WCQ)
  • Wales 1-2 Croatia (WCQ)
  • Wales 0-0 Rep of Ireland (friendly)
  • Macedonia 2-1 Wales (WCQ)

"We can't take that risk. If he comes on and, God forbid, anything happens, then how is that building a relationship with Real Madrid?

"We know we need to win the game but we're also looking at the bigger picture.

"We can't be sending back players injured because we're taking chances - it's not fair on them."

Wales now need to beat Serbia in Cardiff on Tuesday to maintain any hope of claiming third place in Group A, which would boost their seeding when the draw for Euro 2016 qualification is made.

Coleman said there was an outside chance Bale could come off the bench against Serbia.

"He's never going to be ready to start, it's as simple as that," Coleman said. "The fact he's turned up and is trying to be fit for us is such a huge positive and if he's ready then he may play a part.

"We'll see how he reacts between now and Tuesday."

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What's missing is really sticking the knife into teams when we're on top and finishing them off

Chris Coleman Wales manager

Coleman, who suffered the embarrassment of arriving late in Skopje on Thursday after missing the team flight from Cardiff because of a lost passport, said he regretted a missed opportunity to beat Macedonia.

Ivan Trickovski had given Macedonia the lead after a deflected free-kick fell kindly, but Wales fought back through an Aaron Ramsey penalty he won himself.

However, sloppy play on the edge of Wales' own area let Aleksandar Trajkovski snatch a late winner for the home side.

"I'm gobsmacked really. You know anything can happen and you get nervous but I was very confident," said the Wales boss.

"Even when we went 1-0 down there was a feeling about us and an atmosphere about us that was positive and I felt that we were going to win the game.

"[Craig] Bellamy hits a post, Ramsey sticks a penalty in and we were always the one in the ascendency. Half-time came too quickly for us.

"What's missing at the minute is really sticking the knife into teams when we're on top and finishing them off."