Euro 2016: Gareth Bale insists he can handle England 'nibbles'

Euro 2016: Wales fully ready for England - Gareth Bale
Euro 2016: England v Wales
Venue: Stade Felix Bollaert-Delelis, Lens Date: Thursday, 16 June Kick-off: 14:00 BST
Coverage: Live on BBC One, BBC Radio 5 live, BBC Radio Wales, the BBC Sport website and app.

Gareth Bale insists he can take the physical battering if England choose to get rough with him in Thursday's Euro 2016 match in Lens.

Wales lead Group B and victory would see them qualify for the knockout stages while England boss Hodgson hopes for a first win of this tournament.

Hodgson insists England will not kick the world's most expensive player but Bale is not worried if they do.

"You always get it. Slovakia had a nice nibble on Saturday," said Bale.

And asked if he was expecting a couple of kicks from England players, the Real Madrid forward replied: "That's normal."

Hodgson relishes 'spice' in Wales encounter

The Wales talisman has made headlines with his pre-match comments insisting England could not match Wales for pride and passion, adding the English "big themselves up without doing anything yet".

Hodgson thought Bale's comments were "disrespectful" but if the 26-year-old has made himself a bigger target, Wales' £85m pound man is not bothered.

"I don't think I've said anything to be bad to be honest," said Bale, who has scored 20 goals in 56 Wales caps. "I've given my opinion what our country is about."


How England decide to deal with the double Champions League winner is likely to have a major bearing on arguably the biggest match between the countries since the first game in 1879.

But Bale says he does not care if England choose to man-mark him for 90 minutes as he added: "I'll just move the player out the way and create some space. It doesn't bother me.

"If I don't get the ball I will stand on the wing, he can stand next to me and there will be a massive hole in the middle.

Chris Smalling and Gary Cahill
Chris Smalling and Gary Cahill are good players, according to Gareth Bale

"But I feel like I'm playing really well and that I can keep on improving."

Weaknesses at centre-back for England?

It has been suggested that England centre-backs Chris Smalling and Gary Cahill might struggle to cope with Bale's pace and movement.

"The centre-backs are obviously good players - they play for Manchester United and Chelsea," said Bale. "They're no pushovers, but we know their weaknesses from what we've seen.

"We'll be keeping that to ourselves and trying to exploit it on game day.

"It doesn't matter who we are playing against. When we pull on the red jersey we fight together as a team."

England woes

Wales' opening 2-1 victory over Slovakia has given them a great chance to progress into the knockout stage of the competition, their first major finals appearance in 58 years.

But they have not beaten England since 1984, losing all four matches since and failing to score a goal in those four games.

Bale played in the Wales side which lost 1-0 at Wembley in 2011, but he felt that result was unjust.

"When we analysed that game we realised we should have won it," said Bale.

Rewind: Mark Hughes' winner in Wales' last win over England in 1984

"We felt we were the better side over the whole game.

"We did have our chances - Earnie (Robert Earnshaw) missed an open goal towards the end - but I think we are a better team now and more experienced."

Support from all-time top scorer

Wales great Ian Rush thinks Bale's pre-match words set the tone nicely.

"I think that's what it's all about, having a little bit of banter and everything and that adds to the excitement," Rush told BBC Radio.

"I see Roy Hodgson saying talk is cheap. It's time for action now and a little pressure (is) on England because they've got to deliver now.

"The players should relish playing in these conditions and hopefully the top players come out on top."

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