Michael Laudrup hoping Swansea City players come through World Cup matches unscathed
MICHAEL Laudrup will keep fingers crossed that key members of his Swansea City squad come through the latest round of World Cup qualifiers unscathed.
With a hectic schedule of five games in 12 days directly after the international break, the Dane could do without any selection headaches.
It was Jonathan de Guzman left nursing his bonce after last reporting for duty with his country.
The midfielder suffered a clash of heads with Dirk Kuyt in Holland training, a blow that sidelined him for Swansea's opening Premier League match against Manchester United.
Five-cap de Guzman is again included in the Dutch squad for their games against Estonia and Andorra, along with clubmate Michel Vorm.
And Welsh duo Ashley Williams and Ben Davies are expected to feature for Wales in their World Cup qualifier in Macedonia tomorrow, and again when Serbia visit the Cardiff City Stadium on Tuesday.
Neil Taylor and Jazz Richards have already withdrawn from Chris Coleman's group with injury.
And Jonjo Shelvey has pulled out of England Under-21s clash with Moldova.
Taylor will be missing for up to five weeks after suffering a thigh injury, meaning he will miss club commitments during a packed September.
Swansea are back in Premier League action with a home meeting against Liverpool a week on Monday before resuming their Europa League campaign in Valencia three days later.
After that they take on Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park, with Arsenal visiting the following weekend and a Capital One Cup clash against Birmingham City in between.
But Coleman offered Laudrup some reassurances ahead of Wales's double-header, promising players will be looked after while they are in his camp.
"If there's any chance of us sending a player back injured we don't take that risk," said the former Swansea defender.
"If I was a club manager and that happened to me I would put massive barriers in the way of them going away again.
"I don't blame mangers for being like that.
"That's why when players are with us if there's a chance of them getting injured we won't take that risk because we want to build relationships."
Wales return to Group A action in Macedonia knowing that they have no realistic hope of reaching the World Cup finals in Brazil next summer. But Coleman insists the clash is crucial as his side seek to finish in third place and improve their seeding ahead of the Euro 2016 pool draw.
The build up to this match has been dominated by Gareth Bale and his world record transfer to Real Madrid.
Bale completed an £86 million switch to the Bernabeu on Monday, but reported for Wales duty in Cardiff in the early hours of Tuesday morning.
The former Spurs flyer has been nursing a foot injury and is yet to feature this season.
And Coleman revealed he will not start in Skopje or against Serbia.
But the former Fulham boss reckons just having such a talisman in the squad has given other players a lift.
"He's got no chance of playing 90 minutes in either game, how much he does play will depend on how he does in training," said the Wales boss.
"The lads just take it in their stride, there's been a bit of banter, but they're just delighted he's here.
"Gareth's got a smile on his face because he knows now where he's going to be playing, he knows where his future is.
"Is there going to be added pressure because of what's gone on with Gareth? Probably. But I'm not going to try to turn us into something we're not. I know what we're good at.
"I don't expect Gareth to come in and win us every game, it doesn't work like that. He needs help and support, and we'll look to give him that."
The summer saga of Bale's switch to La Liga was finally resolved on Monday when he was presented to 20,000 fans in Spain.
His protracted move to Madrid was the major story of the latest transfer window.
Big things are expected of the former Southampton man given the sum spent on him.
Bale has already made a major contribution to Wales this campaign.
He scored twice as his country came from behind to beat Scotland last October, and also netted against Croatia.
"If I was manager of Macedonia and I heard he was in the squad, whether he starts or not, it's a threat in itself," added Coleman.
"I experienced that once or twice myself as a player with one or two teams.
"At Blackburn we had Alan Shearer and when we were lining up in the tunnel, we knew if we kept a clean sheet we'd win because he'd score.
"Even better than that, the opposition knew it too. When you're in that position it doesn't half give you confidence. It's a big positive for us that we've got Gareth."