Gareth Bale is very much in my plans, says Chris Coleman
GARETH Bale could make his first start of the season when Wales take on Macedonia in Skopje next Friday (6pm).
A foot injury has sidelined the Spurs winger at the start of a season in which he has been at the centre of intense speculation about a transfer to Real Madrid.
Bale is thought to be close to completing a world record- breaking £86 million move to La Liga and again failed to show up for training with Tottenham yesterday.
That led Andre Villas-Boas to suggest he may be fined by his club.
The former Southampton man seems unlikely to feature at Arsenal on Sunday even if the proposed switch to Spain has not been completed by then.
But he has been named in Chris Coleman's squad for World Cup qualification matches against Macedonia and Serbia.
Wales play in Skopje a week tomorrow before hosting Serbia at the Cardiff City Stadium four days later, and Coleman is optimistic that Bale will be involved.
"As far as we're concerned, unless we're told he's unavailable then he's very much in our plans," said the Wales boss.
"Sometimes when players have a rest and they've not played a lot of football, maybe they won't last the 90 minutes, but sometimes there's a freshness about them and that rest does them good physically.
"The difference with Gareth is that mentally there's a lot been going on, but if we can have him then of course it's a boost for us.
"It's not been easy for him, there's a lot of pressure on him. But he's the type of lad that is very unassuming, he has a calm personality, he's very grounded.
"We hope and pray that we get him because these two games are huge for us. He's vitally important, obviously. He's in the squad and we expect everyone to report in on Monday."
If the move does go through, Coleman knows it will be important to establish a positive relationship with Real boss Carlo Ancelotti in order to be sure of Bale's availability for international duty.
"Perhaps it's up to me to go out there, sit down with them and introduce ourselves," he said.
"They have to know how important Gareth is to us. They could be forgiven for thinking Wales is a small football nation, a small country, but it will be up to me to explain the importance of Gareth and of Welsh football.
"We have to make sure we have a good relationship for the future, if he goes there. It doesn't affect Cristiano Ronaldo. He is still given the courtesy of playing every game for Portugal and I would expect Gareth to be shown that as well."
Coleman also included Joe Allen, Aaron Ramsey and Neil Taylor in his squad, despite the trio carrying injuries.
Swansea left-back Taylor looks particularly unlikely to be involved after his club confirmed he is set to be sidelined for four to six weeks with a thigh injury.
Coleman also confirmed he is very close to agreeing a contract extension, having held talks with the Football Association of Wales over the last few months.
He took the job in 2012 following the death of Gary Speed, and his existing deal runs through to the summer of 2014.
Coleman added: "It's been very positive. I would expect we would come to a conclusion very, very soon. I don't really see there'll be too much more of a delay, we're practically there really.
"I've been very happy with the way it's gone and I'll be delighted to pledge my future to Wales and have another crack of the whip."
Wales: Hennessey (Wolves), Myhill (West Brom), Fon Williams (Tranmere), Davies (Swansea), Eardley (Birmingham), Gabbidon (Palace), Gunter (Reading), Matthews (Celtic), Ricketts (Wolves), A Williams (Swansea), Allen (Liverpool), Collison (West Ham), King (Leicester), Ledley (Celtic), Ramsey (Arsenal), Crofts (Birmingham), J Williams (Palace), Bale (Tottenham), Bellamy (Cardiff), Church (Charlton), Robson-Kanu (Reading), Vokes (Burnley).