Ireland head to Cardiff on Monday for a crunch showdown with Wales, knowing that anything less than three points likely won’t be enough to see them into the play-offs. Yesterday, the Boys in Green received a significant boost with the news that Gareth Bale will miss the week’s international clashes.
The Euro 2016 semi-finalists head to Tbilisi to face Georgia before finishing off their Group D campaign at home to Ireland. The task to pick up maximum points has suddenly become a lot more difficult for Wales without their talisman.
Wales manager Chris Coleman was quick to play down the loss of the Real Madrid star.
“We are in good shape. It is all to play for.
“We have always been a little half a step behind, but we have injuries this campaign which we never had last campaign [for Euro 2016]. But you don’t get there with ones and twos, it is about everybody.
“This campaign we haven’t always had Bale, Aaron Ramsey or Joe Allen. They are obviously three super-special players and we haven’t always had them, but the lads who have come in have been absolutely magnificent.” Quote via The Mirror.
Should both Wales and Ireland pick up three points on Friday, then Monday could well be a straight shoot-out for a play-off berth, although results need to go the right way in other groups.
Despite Coleman’s insistence that Wales can cope without Gareth Bale, there is no doubting the raw scale of this blow.