• World Cup qualifiers

Coleman takes solace in Bale return

ESPN staff
September 11, 2013 « Live County Championship coverage | Chartbeat test »
Gareth Bale came off the bench for Wales against Serbia © PA Photos
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Wales manager Chris Coleman took solace in Gareth Bale's return to football during his country's 3-0 loss to Serbia on Tuesday.

Bale played in his first competitive match of the season after suffering a pre-season injury and Real Madrid's new world-record signing made an impact for Wales during the final half hour of the match.

Serbia put the result beyond doubt before Bale's introduction, but the 24-year-old looked impressive, particularly with his swerving free-kick which was just saved by goalkeeper Vladimir Stojkovic.

Although Coleman insists Bale is still a long way from being match fit and is unlikely to play a full 90 minutes in his Real Madrid debut on Saturday, the manager was happy to have his star available.

"He played 30 minutes but after 15 minutes he looked tired - but he has only had four training sessions, so you will not get what you normally get," he said. "But he gave us a lift, the fans were excited and it gave us a spur, although the game was done and dusted. We needed to be in the game, it was lost by then, but it was nice for the Welsh supporters to see him.

"If he starts Saturday he will not finish the game, I would be amazed if he does. He is nowhere near ready for 90 minutes even if Spanish football is slower. He may get 45 minutes, I don't know, but he will feel better in himself after 30 minutes."

Bale later tweeted his excitement at returning to the pitch.

Coleman, who was offered a two-year extension by the Football Association of Wales last week, came under criticism following the match, but has no plans to step down from his position.

"I have every intention of leading this side into the next qualification campaign," he added. "We have two wins out of eight, which is not good but I am still excited about the group we could have available. The next campaign will be a better one.

"I am the same man as I was last week when the contract was agreed. I know football is short-term and that is how it has gone, but we did not perform.

"But I am looking at the whole situation and the game, I will speak with the powers that be (about signing my contract), but I have not thought about when I will sign it. I know sections of the crowd weren't happy but I don't blame them."

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