Wales manager Ryan Giggs wants to take the pressure off Gareth Bale heading into the 2020 European Championship campaign.
Bale is just a few months short of his 30th birthday, but the Real Madrid striker remains Wales’ main man ahead of Sunday’s opening Euro 2020 qualifier against Slovakia in Cardiff.
Wales’ record goalscorer completed his first 90 minutes of 2019 on Saturday and scored as Real beat Celta Vigo 2-0 in LaLiga.
— Gareth Bale (@GarethBale11) March 16, 2019
“Usually when Gareth scores he goes on a run, so that’s good for us,” Giggs said ahead of the pre-Slovakia friendly with Trinidad & Tobago in Wrexham on Wednesday.
“We all know what a talent he is, and if he plays games he’ll score goals.
“But also 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.”
Bale is unlikely to start the Trinidad & Tobago game, allowing Giggs to cast his eye over his young forwards with Sam Vokes and Tom Lawrence both ruled out by injury.
— Wales 🏴 (@Cymru) March 18, 2019
Arsenal playmaker Aaron Ramsey (thigh) and Chelsea midfielder Ethan Ampadu (back) are also absent, although the former is expected to be fit for the Slovakia game.
“With the emergence of Harry Wilson, David Brooks and Dan James we’ve got so many attacking options,” Giggs said.
“That’s what I want. But you have to recognise that you’ve got a special player, one of the best in the world, and play to his strengths also.
“The Trinidad & Tobago game will be a balancing act as players are at different stages.
“Some players need games, some players don’t. But I’ve challenged those that will play to impress because there are still places up for grabs on Sunday.”
Veteran Ashley Williams is likely to captain Wales and win his 84th cap as the on-loan Stoke defender needs game-time.
Williams has not started for Stoke since the start of February, but two appearances for Wales this week will see him equal the 85-cap mark of Gary Speed and become his country’s joint-third most capped player.
“To think I would get as many caps as Gary Speed when I won my first one was unthinkable,” Williams said.
“It would be a massive achievement. To actually achieve that would be something I would be very proud of.”