• International football

Coleman considers striking role for Bale

ESPN staff
February 6, 2013
Gareth Bale is Wales' leading light © PA Photos

Gareth Bale is set to feature on the wing during Wales' friendly against Austria on Wednesday, although manager Chris Coleman has not ruled out the possibility of deploying him as a striker in the future.

Bale, 23, has been in fine form for Tottenham of late, scoring a pair of stunning goals in his last two appearances against Norwich and West Brom.

The Wales international's displays have led to calls for Spurs boss Andre Villas-Boas to move the player into a central role, given the club's current shortage of strikers - something the Portuguese has hinted is an option he is prepared to try.

But while Coleman insists Bale will not be playing down the middle against Austria, he has echoed Villas-Boas' comments that it could be something to consider further down the line.

"Gareth will not start up front against Austria, but it is something I'm actively considering for the future," Coleman said. "You have to score goals to win matches and it's a role he could perform, without any shadow of a doubt.

"He could even perform the role of a false nine, so to speak, the system Spain have used, and Barcelona also play that way from time to time with Lionel Messi. Could I see Gareth doing that for us, too? Yes I could.''

Bale spoke recently of emulating Cristiano Ronaldo, who started off as a winger before transforming himself into a player who can play anywhere in the final third.

Whatever position Bale plays on Wednesday, though, Austria manager Marcel Koller is well aware of the danger he poses.

"Bale is the key player for Wales, especially in terms of his offensive play. We have to work together to try and stop him, rather than having one player man-marking him," he said. "He is extremely fast and has very good technique.''

While Bale comes into the Austria game full of confidence, his compatriot Joe Allen is looking at Wednesday as a chance to find some form.

The midfielder enjoyed an impressive start to life at Liverpool after completing his £15 million summer move from Swansea. However, a failure to maintain such standards has seen the Wales international dropped to the bench in recent weeks.

"Everyone knows my form hasn't been great," he said. "That goes without saying. It's been disappointing not to have been involved in every game and play every game. But it's up to me now to work hard and get myself back in the team and improve my level of performance.

"It happens to everyone in football. We all have highs and lows. But I'm excited and looking forward to turning that around at some stage in the near future.

"I'm delighted to be back with the Wales squad, I am looking forward to hopefully being involved on Wednesday and I will try to put in a good performance if I do play.''

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