One step at a time for Bale as Wales gear up for Slovakia

WREXHAM • Wales manager Ryan Giggs has defended his decision to leave Gareth Bale out of the team who beat Trinidad and Tobago 1-0 in a friendly on Wednesday, saying that he is trying to keep the forward fresh for important matches ahead.

The Welsh needed a stoppage-time goal from Liverpool teenager Ben Woodburn to seal the win in Wrexham and save Giggs' blushes.

Bale was one of several players, including Aaron Ramsey and David Brooks, omitted just days before the team begin their Euro 2020 qualifying campaign against Slovakia in Cardiff on Sunday.

"Of course it's disappointing for the fans," Giggs said on the BBC.

"They want to see the likes of Gareth. But it's my job to make sure we are ready for Sunday.

"Gareth got his first 90 minutes in three months (for Real Madrid last weekend), so it was just too much of a risk with Sunday in mind.

"I want to take the pressure off him at the same time, so if he's not available we're not just reliant on one player."

Trinidad and Tobago are ranked 93rd in the world - 74 places lower than Wales - yet it seemed they might be rewarded with a creditable draw at a Racecourse Ground where their manager Dennis Lawrence played for Wrexham.

The last match between the two countries had seen Bale become Wales' youngest player then, at 16 years and 315 days, in a win over Trinidad in a 2006 friendly.

Wales' victory meant that Giggs, who was appointed 14 months ago, has clinched only his fourth win to go with five defeats and a draw.

The Manchester United legend had previously said that he is determined to win over his doubters and is aware that he will be judged on the results from the Euro 2020 qualifying matches.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 22, 2019, with the headline 'One step at a time for Bale as Wales gear up for Slovakia'. Print Edition | Subscribe