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Bale Williams Wales training

Wales Watch returns as Laurence Mora picks out some choice Wales news and gossip. This week its Real Madrid’s Gareth Bale, young St Johnstone loanee George Williams, and Wales centurion and all-round Welsh football legend Jess Fishlock.

Gareth Bale:

In my mind I want us to go as strong as possible for the China Cup. I want all the big hitters there so they can bed in under Ryan Giggs, show him what they’re all about off the pitch as well as on it.

But I’m rapidly coming to the opinion that Gareth Bale should remain in Spain.

An injury plagued 18-months and he seems to being nursed through things at Real Madrid right now.

He’s yet to complete 90-minutes in 2018, one week on the bench, starting the next but always subbed off around 60-70 minutes. The games I’ve seen he’s not flying in the way we know he can.

The inevitable link with Manchester United also popped up this week, but with a bit more bite than usual as Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane was lukewarm about Bale’s contribution at the weekend.

So for me the international break would be better served with Bale staying in Spain, a week of training, building up strength and learning to trust his body again after a really testing time.

If I’m honest it’s a totally selfish reason. I want Gareth to be back to his flying best by the time Nations League kicks off. Leading from the front and putting the Republic of Ireland to the sword home and away.

George Williams:

A kid with a lot of talent and potential, but also a warning to those of us who get carried away that football can be a brutal industry and even the best kids don’t always make the progress you expect.

George made his debut on Sunday for St Johnstone after signing on loan from Fulham for the rest of the season. It’s his first game back after a hamstring injury and he did well before being replaced after 65 minutes.

This is a big few months for Willo.

He got a shot at the Wales squad for a friendly against the Netherlands thanks to an injury to Bale, and then came on as a sub for Jonny Williams. Classy on the ball, quick feet and lightening fast over 10-15 yards. What a player we have here, was my thought.

Suddenly George was right in the mix. A couple of sub appearances, and a start against Cyprus in that nail-biter of a match during Euro 2016 qualifying and things were looking good.

Then came the knee ligament injury while on loan at MK Dons in 2015, and it seems from the outside that George has struggled to get things going again.

There was a suggestion from a source within the Wales set-up that he’d taken his eye off the ball in recent times BUT a move to Scotland is a great chance to kickstart his career.

Go there, show what he can do, and hopefully he can force his way back into Wales contention by the summer internationals. He’s only 22 so time to start turning that potential into reality. Go on George, lad!

Jess Fishlock:

Another day another trophy for Jess Fishlock as Melbourne City wrapped up it’s third W-League title. And the greatest women’s player of her generation in Wales played her part with a cracker of a strike.

To be honest I don’t have time or space to list all of Jess’s honours so here’s a helpful-ish wikipedia guide. Although, I’m pretty sure it’s not been updated recently so Jess you need to get on it!

Jess Fishlock hundredth cap
Jess Fishlock with friends and family after winning 100th cap for Wales against Northern Ireland in 2017 – photo credit:

The difference in money between the men’s and women’s game is laid out in someone like Jess. Supremely talented, dedicated professional, she plays the US league then follows that up by heading to Australia, all the while never missing a Wales game.

Jess should be lauded as superb role model and one her nation’s greats, but there are a few reading this who will bring up her comments about playing for a Team GB.

That should be long forgotten now, in the same way it has for Ramsey and Bellamy. Jess was the first Wales player to reach a 100-caps, man or woman, and I know there won’t be a prouder Welsh person around than her should she help lead Jayne Ludlow’s side to the 2019 World Cup finals in France over the next few months.

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