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Gareth Bale admits coronavirus fears following Ireland cases

Gareth Bale admits coronavirus fears following Ireland cases
© Reuters
Republic of Ireland pair Matt Doherty and James McClean tested positive after their 1-0 defeat in Cardiff on Sunday.

Gareth Bale has expressed concerns over catching Covid-19 after playing for Wales against Republic of Ireland opponents who subsequently tested positive.

Bale’s Tottenham team-mate Matt Doherty and Stoke midfielder James McClean both tested positive after Wales’ 1-0 Nations League win in Cardiff on Sunday.

But Bale said the Football Association of Wales, which reported that every one of its players had tested negative after the Ireland game and are available to play against Finland on Wednesday, has done a “fantastic job”.

Wales have not returned a positive test in three international camps during the coronavirus pandemic.

“It’s a slight concern for everyone when you have been playing someone (who has tested positive) and in close contact on the field, but maybe not long enough to catch it,” Bale said ahead of Wednesday’s Nations League promotion decider against Finland.

“Obviously you’re a bit wary, but it is good news that everyone has come back and tested negative and now we can concentrate on the game.

Wales v Republic of Ireland – UEFA Nations League – League B – Group 4 – Cardiff City Stadium
Gareth Bale (centre) celebrates with team-mates after David Brooks scored Wales’ winner against the Republic of Ireland on Sunday (Nick Potts/PA)

“Me and Ben (Davies) spoke to him (Doherty) briefly and I think he is doing fine, he’s got mild symptoms.”

Most international teams have been affected by coronavirus over the last three months and Ireland have been hit especially hard.

Ireland had four positive tests this month after losing eight players under the coronavirus protocols in October.

Two players, Aaron Connolly and Adam Idah, had to sit out the Euro 2016 play-off in Slovakia as a result of what proved to be a false positive for a member of staff to whom they were sitting too close on the flight over.

Bale outlined the protocols the FAW has put in place, saying: “There’s a lot we need to stick to.

“There’s only three or four to a table, making sure we are socially distanced, going at different times to get food, wearing gloves to serve our food, no sharing rooms any more.

“They have gone to great measures to make sure we are safe. It is important to take it seriously and we are leading by example by being on the TV and trying to do things correctly and responsibly.

“We have to be on board with it. It’s what we have to do if we want to play for Wales and everyone has played their part.

“It’s been important to do that and it’s not the same as it was before, but these are things we have to do if we want to play football and all of us are willing to do it.”

Caretaker manager Robert Page put the zero positive Wales tests down to “good planning”, allowing his squad to focus fully on topping Group B4 and securing promotion to League A.

Wales Training Session – The Vale Resort – Tuesday November 17th
Gareth Bale makes his point during a Wales training session ahead of the Nations League decider against Finland (David Davies/PA)

Wales are a point clear of second-placed Finland and a draw will be enough to see them join Europe’s elite in the next edition of the Nations League.

“It’s a massive game for us,” Bale said. “To win the group and get promoted is something we set out to do at the start.

“It’s important for us as a country to get that winning mentality and that feeling going into the Euros in the summer.

“We want to get better and improve and the only way we’ll do that is by playing better teams.”

Bale, Wales’ record 33-goal marksman, has not scored for his country for 13 months but says he is in a good place following his season-long loan move to Tottenham from Real Madrid.

“The more games I’m playing the better the body is adapting,” he said. “I still need to get a little fitter and sharper but I am getting there.

“It takes a bit of time when you’re a bit older, but I am just excited to get back to full fitness and hopefully it won’t be too long.

“Leading into the Euros in the summer, that’s where I want to be peaking.”

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