Wales is among the field of the China Cup, an international tournament in Guangxi, China, to play a pair of international friendlies this week.
New manager Ryan Giggs admitted there is outside pressure to play Gareth Bale in the event at some point, but admitted he will not put the Real Madrid star at risk just to appease sponsors. In fact, the only pressure he’s feeling is from himself.
“Any risks, stupid risks, I won’t be taking,” Giggs said. “But it’s also my first game and I want to get my best team out there.”
Wales missed out on the 2018 World Cup, and there’s little to gain from having Bale out on the field the entire time. Wales will play China in the semifinals on Thursday, and then meets the winner of Uruguay and Czech Republic next week.
According to reports, Wales would lose nearly $150,000 of its $1.5 million participation fee if Bale did not play.
“I’ve not spoken to [Real Madrid manager Zinedine] Zidane, but I’ve spoken to Gareth,” Giggs said. “I’ve been in contact with him regularly in the last few months and I’m not stupid because it’s an important part of the season.”
Bale has been smothered by injuries – mostly calf problems – during his Real Madrid career, missing a stretch of over two months through October and November with hamstring issues. He has been fit since, but Zidane rarely risks Bale for the full 90 minutes. In fact, Bale’s only three full 90’s of the 2018 calendar year have all come in the last three weeks.
The 28-year-old has three goals in his last five La Liga games, including one off the bench in a 6-3 win over Girona last weekend.