Wales manager Rob Page cited fitness concern as the reason to substitute stalwart Gareth Bale at half-time in his side’s 0-3 loss to England at the Al Rayyan Stadium on Tuesday.
“Yeah, Gareth was struggling after the first half with his hamstring. And I had to make a call about him,” said Page.
“He wants what is best for the team. And he knew if he had gone back on, he would be at 70 percent, and you can’t be playing against a team like that.
“You can’t carry anybody, and we needed people out there willing to run into the ground and he couldn’t have done that,” Page added.
The former Real Madrid player’s substitution at the break fuelled discussions whether this was his last appearance in a Welsh shirt.
Page refused the claims. “I don’t think it’ll be the last time you seen him in a Wales jersey. You know these games are starting again in March with the Euro qualifiers,” he said.
I’ll keep going
Following the harrowing defeat, Bale too admitted that he is not done yet in Welsh colours. “I’ll keep going as long as I can and as long as I’m wanted. Just because we have had a difficult tournament, it doesn’t mean it’s the end of an era. We are looking forward to March. We are looking forward to the qualifiers. This group is sticking together. We have a great team spirit and we will go again like we always do,” Bale said.
Tuesday’s loss saw Wales exit the FIFA World Cup 2022 without a win, and at the bottom spot in Group B.