Wales manager Robe Page has said that talisman Gareth Bale will have to find a club sympathetic to his needs if he wants to arrive at the World Cup in peak condition.
The former Real Madrid player is looking for a new club after ending his nine years of association with the Spanish club early this month.
Although he was less instrumental as Los Blancos won their 14th Champions League title last month, he remains arguably the most important player for Wales after scoring the winner that sent them to the World Cup.
Another Wales player who remains important for Wales is Aaron Ramsey. The midfielder has a year left on his contract at Juventus, who sanctioned what proved to be a fruitless loan to Rangers in January, but is expected to leave this summer.
And Page has said he will discuss with Bale and Ramsey next week how they intend to resolve their uncertain club futures. The Wales manager said it would be unrealistic for Bale to lead the team in Qatar without signing for a club because “all the training in the world” does not replicate match fitness.
In an interview with The Guardian, Page revealed that he allows Bale and Ramsey to follow individual training programmes. However, he admitted that club managers may be reluctant to allow the same degree of licence.
“Clubs must be looking at them and thinking: ‘How can they do that for their country?’” Page said.
“It is a common-sense approach for us. It is hard when you’re trying to create that environment at the club level when you’ve got other world-class players around you. We haven’t got 10 Gareth Bales in that [Wales] changing room. It is harder to do that [at club level]; you do have to have that sort of ‘throw the blanket over all the players, this is how we’re going to train today’.
“That is going to be his [Bale’s] difficulty, finding someone that will manage him. He has to take that responsibility himself and that will determine whether he plays a lot of football because if he’s not able to train like that through the week the manager at the respective club might not want to select him on the weekend. He understands what he needs to do.
“Gareth’s problems in the past have been when he’s not been playing week in, week out, and for the Belarus game he came into camp undercooked and ended up getting a little tweak in his calf, so he understands he needs to play. It is up to him and his family to decide on where is best for him to get in the right frame of mind for November. It’s going to be as simple as that, and it might even be as short term as that.”