Gareth Bale: Manager Robert Page says Real Madrid forward will not start for Wales against Belgium

Gareth Bale
Gareth Bale celebrated his 100th Wales cap after their 5-1 victory over Belarus
Venue: Cardiff City Stadium Date: Tuesday, 16 November Kick-off: 19:45 GMT
Coverage: Live commentary on BBC Radio Wales and Radio Cymru, plus live text and score updates on the BBC Sport website and app.

Wales captain Gareth Bale will not start in Tuesday’s World Cup qualifier against Belgium as he continues his recovery from a hamstring injury.

Bale, 32, was taken off at half-time in Saturday’s 5-1 thrashing of Belarus, a precautionary substitution he described as “planned” afterwards.

Manager Robert Page says the Real Madrid star’s only hope of featuring against Belgium is as a substitute.

“He was never going to start. We knew that coming into camp,” said Page.

“The plan was always for him to get a half in the first game and then come on and maybe have an impact in the second game.

“He has not played for a couple of months and to throw him in for that game was a big ask from a physical point of view.

“He’s done his own recovery today and we’ll leave it to the last minute to see if he can play any minutes.”

Speaking after Saturday’s victory, Bale dismissed suggestions he had picked up an injury during the game at Cardiff City Stadium and said he expected to face Belgium after his substitution against Belarus had been planned.

“I’ve been out for two months so if we were up the plan was to come off and be ready for Tuesday,” Bale told Sky Sports after the game.

“It was always the plan to play 45 minutes.”

Wales are already guaranteed a play-off place having won their Nations League group last year but, to have any chance of a home draw, they must finish second in their World Cup qualifying group.

Wales are second in Group E, three points ahead of the third-placed Czech Republic, who will be expected to beat Estonia on Tuesday.

Robert Page’s men can secure second spot on Tuesday with a draw at home to Belgium.

If Wales and the Czech Republic end on the same points, second place will go to the team with the best goal difference or, failing that, the team with most goals scored.

Wales currently have a goal difference two better than the Czechs, having scored one goal more in total.

Belgium have already secured top spot in Group E but manager Roberto Martinez will be without a number of his senior players for the game.

Among those not in the squad travelling to Cardiff are Chelsea striker Romelu Lukaku, Leicester City midfielder Youri Tielemans, Real Madrid pair Eden Hazard and Thibaut Courtois and Lyon centre-back Jason Denayer.