Gareth Bale ruled out of Wales vs. Ireland: So he really is hurt?

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You can’t blame people for looking at Gareth Bale’s exclusion from Tottenham’s recently friendlies as a fly in Daniel Levy’s “he’s not for sale” ointment, especially after the Wales international was called in for Wednesday’s match with the Republic of Ireland. If he is healthy enough to train with his national team, conspiracy theorists would note, then he’s being held out of Spurs matches for other reasons. And if he’s being held out of Spurs matches, then me must be going to Real Madrid.

But plot twist, Jim Garrison: Turns out Bale’s actually injured. Either that or the Welsh FA is now in on the conspiracy.

This evening’s reports:

Gareth Bale will sit out Wales’ friendly against the Republic of Ireland on Wednesday having been assessed by the national team’s medical staff. The Tottenham Hotspur forward, who has set his heart on a move to Real Madrid, is to remain with Chris Coleman’s squad as he continues his rehabilitation from a foot injury.

Bale trained on his own at Wales’ Newport base on Monday, going through sprinting drills with the team’s physio Sean Connelly, with the Football Association of Wales confirming the 24-year-old would not be considered for Wednesday’s game in Cardiff. The Spurs manager, André Villas-Boas, had suggested on Saturday that the player was still “disturbed” by pain in his foot and, having not featured for the club in over three weeks, he is unlikely to play in the Premier League opener at Crystal Palace on Sunday.

Now that we’ve established Bale’s injury is real, we can start talking about the implications, particularly if it’s already evident he won’t make the opener against Palace. For that game, Tottenham should be fine. An attacking three of Roberto Soldado, Nacir Chadli, and Aaron Lennon is more than capable of breaking through the Eagles.

But the implications of this injury might extend beyond this weekend. If Villas-Boas knew a week ahead of time Bale was unlikely to play and the attacker’s already missed three weeks worth of games, he’s unlikely to be risked in Europa League next Wednesday. After so long without a game, the extent to which he can contribute against Swansea City on Aug. 25 could be determined as much by his general fitness as the state of his ankle.

In case you’re wondering, Tottenham’s first test against their competition for Champions League spots: Sept. 1, at Arsenal. Kind of a big game.