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London - Gareth Bale will not follow in Ryan Giggs’s footsteps and become a part-time Wales international, according to one of his closest colleagues.
Rumours have been circulating that the Spurs star will solely focus on domestic and European club football.
Bale, 23, has 39 caps and is certain to add to that on Friday against Scotland at Hampden Park, despite missing training with Chris Coleman’s squad on Tuesday due to an ankle problem.
Giggs withdrew from international duty for some non-competitive fixtures, but Celtic midfielder Joe Ledley is confident that Bale won’t follow suit. ‘I can’t see him picking and choosing his games,’ said Ledley. ‘He likes meeting up, being with the lads, the training and the games.’
When Wales beat Scotland 2-1 last October, Bale won and scored a penalty and hit a 30-yard goal for Coleman’s first victory.
Ledley added: ‘Scotland will be nervous about playing against him. Most defenders would be - I think he’s good at everything.’
And ex-Wales star Mickey Thomas has ensured a hot reception for the side by claiming Gordon Strachan’s side are ‘the worst Scotland team ever’. The former Manchester United and Chelsea man added: ‘Scotland haven’t got anything. They don’t have a top player.
‘If Wales play and Bale’s at his best, then Wales will win the game.’
Meanwhile, the second the World Cup draw was made, the banter started at Sunderland. In the Irish corner, John O’Shea and James McClean. And in the Swedish corner, Seb Larsson, whose talk before the first World Cup qualifying tie between the two countries in Stockholm on Friday night centred on Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
‘He is the best Swedish player since Henrik Larsson, without a doubt,’ said the 27-year-old midfielder.
Republic of Ireland skipper Robbie Keane, 32, wants to play for as long as possible. The LA Galaxy captain will win his 123rd cap, two short of Shay Given’s Irish record, in Friday’s World Cup qualifier in Sweden. He said: ‘It’s very hard to predict what’s going to happen but I want to play as long as I can. I see someone like Michael Owen retiring, and the two of us came through at the same time. I dread the day I have to finish playing because this is my life.’