Wales plan talks with LAFC over Gareth Bale’s pre-World Cup playing time

Wales are planning talks with Los Angeles FC to ensure Gareth Bale is in peak condition for the World Cup this year.

Bale completed 90 minutes for the first time in more than 12 months on Sunday as Wales were relegated from the top tier of the Nations League after losing 1-0 against Poland in Cardiff.

The former Real Madrid winger almost equalised in stoppage time when his header struck the crossbar, but Bale was unable to affect large parts of the game as he continues to work his way towards full fitness at his new club in the US.

“He’s gone from not playing that many minutes to 35 minutes on Thursday [against Belgium] to 90 minutes,” said Robert Page, the Wales manager. “Would I have wanted him to play 90 minutes? Probably not. But it’s Gareth Bale and, because of the importance of the game, there’s no better person to be standing over the ball at a free-kick late on.”

Bale has made just two starts in 11 appearances since moving to California in July. Before the Poland game, the 33-year-old had not played 90 minutes since a World Cup qualifier against Estonia on 8 September 2021. Western Conference leaders LAFC have two MLS regular‑season games left before entering the playoffs. The MLS Cup final will take place on 5 November – 16 days before Wales’s opening World Cup match against USA.

“What he does from now until the first game against USA … we will be in contact with the club and help manage those minutes,” said Page. “They want Gareth available for them, and we want him in the best physical position for the first game against the USA. We will be in contact with them and make sure he is in the right place.

“They are a good outfit, LA. So they will know exactly how to get him from where he is now to full fitness, which is 90 minutes week-in, week-out.”