Football: Bale back to fitness, looks forward to nailing down Wales' spot in Euro 2016 finals

Wales' Gareth Bale training with the Welsh national team at The Vale Resort in Wales on Oct 6, 2015.
Wales' Gareth Bale training with the Welsh national team at The Vale Resort in Wales on Oct 6, 2015.PHOTO: REUTERS

(REUTERS) - Fit-again Gareth Bale will lead Wales into the cauldron of Bosnia's Bilino Polje stadium in Zenica on Saturday as they aim to end a 57-year wait to qualify for a major tournament with a match to spare.

The Welsh, who lead Group B with 18 points, need one point from their remaining two fixtures to reach Euro 2016, with their final qualifier against Andorra in Cardiff on Tuesday.

The 1958 World Cup was their only previous appearance on the big stage.

Bale, who was named Welsh player of the year for a record fifth time on Monday, made it no secret how excited they were with the prospect.

"We have been working hard for many years to be in this position," he was quoted as saying by the BBC. "We have all been playing with each other for six to eight years. The manager has come in and been amazing."

Manager Chris Coleman had been sweating on Bale's fitness in recent weeks but the 26-year old allayed fears he might be unavailable. He came on as a substitute in Real Madrid's 1-1 draw at city rivals Atletico on Sunday.

"I have prepared well for the last couple of weeks," said Bale. "The calf is okay. It was a nice 20 minutes to open it up and get the legs going ready for the next two games."

But even at full strength with Bale firing on all cylinders, the match against Bosnia desperately needing a win to keep alive their own hopes of qualifying will be a stern test for unbeaten Wales.

The Bosnians, fourth in the group with 11 points behind second-placed Belgium (17) and third-placed Israel (13), are holding their breath as top scorer Edin Dzeko faces a race against time to shake off a knee injury.