Euro 2016

Bale continues baiting England stars

DINARD • Gareth Bale has extended his bullishness towards England by stating yesterday that none of Roy Hodgson's players are good enough to be in the Wales team.

Last week the 26-year-old claimed the Wales players were more patriotic than their English counterparts and, before the two teams' Euro 2016 Group B game in Lens tomorrow, he laughed when asked about this annoying them.

"It's good that they bit," he said. "I didn't say they didn't have pride or passion. In my opinion we have more. They probably will say the same. I'm happy with the comments. We've got a massive team spirit, the best I've seen.

"It's just my opinion."

Despite having a squad that includes Wayne Rooney, Harry Kane, Jamie Vardy and Joe Hart, when asked which England players would get into his team, Bale was clear. "None," he said, denying mind games were being played.

"For me there aren't any. We just focus on ourselves, others like to comment on them. Nothing is fazing us, we don't feel any pressure, we're just going to go out and enjoy the occasion."

He shrugged off Jack Wilshere's comments that England do not really like Wales. "People can say what they want," he said. "They are entitled to their opinion, I don't care.

"If they think they have the better squad, good for them. Whatever the sport Wales seem to have a next level, I really feel it on the pitch, or watching games."

On Monday, England midfielder Wilshere had said: "We know that Wales don't like us.

"Do you like them? Not really!"

He said that a huge respect exists in the England dressing room for Bale, Aaron Ramsey and company, but added: "We know it's going to be a tough game and there are going to be tackles," he said.

"We're here to win and we're here for business. It's going to be like a Premier League game. We know a lot of the players. It gives us a chance to show the nation we have got a lot of passion and pride... and let the quality take over.

"Lionel Messi is on a different planet to anyone," Wilshere said, "but Ronaldo and Bale are up there with the best in the world."

Will England man-mark Bale? "I don't think so," said Wilshere. "We need to do what we did the other night (against Russia).

"When we lose the ball, we have to stop them counter-attacking and win the ball back straight away."

Yesterday, while England were preparing for the Wales encounter, the Daily Mail reported that striker Jamie Vardy was spotted with "a cocktail of nicotine and caffeine" in his hands.

While the stimulants, contained in a tin of nicotine pouches and a can of Red Bull, are not banned, they are on the World Anti-Doping Agency's monitoring list. Used in competition, they would act as stimulants by increasing heart rate.

According to the British newspaper, a Football Association spokesman later asserted that Vardy had not committed an offence and the England medical staff are aware of his habits.

THE TIMES, LONDON, THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 15, 2016, with the headline 'Bale continues baiting England stars'. Print Edition | Subscribe