GARY CALDWELL believes Scotland must devise a way to stop Gareth Bale on Friday night in order to keep their hopes of reaching Brazil 2014 alive.
The defender stressed today that Bale is Wales’ major threat for the all-British World Cup Group A qualifier in Cardiff. Caldwell has faced Bale at club level in England’s Premier League on several occasions and feels the winger’s lightning pace could do serious damage to Scotland’s World Cup aspirations. He identified the Tottenham Hotspur player as the man Scotland must shackle.
“I think Bale, without a doubt, is the key player,” said Caldwell. “He’s been outstanding in the Premier League and for Wales. He has that threat, he can play wide or through the middle so if you’re attacking he is very dangerous on the break.
“He has pace which can hurt you. There is Bale and a few others, like Aaron Ramsey who is a good player. But I think we need to stop Bale more than anyone. When he first went to Tottenham he was very young and people were judging him very quickly. He got time to grow under Harry Redknapp and he’s turned into a world-class player. Come Friday, he is the one man we need to stop because he is Wales’ main danger.”
Scotland travel to Wales needing a result after opening their qualifying campaign with two draws at home to Serbia and Macedonia. They then head to Belgium for another vital qualifier on Tuesday evening.
Peter Houston, Scotland’s
assistant coach, explained that no-one within the national team camp is panicking just yet.
“I don’t think you ever
concede anything,” he said.
“What you have to make sure of, and I’ve said it before, is that we have to try to get as many points as we possibly can. Cardiff is another opportunity. There are three points up for grabs and we will try to get three and we will try to get three in Belgium.
“I wouldn’t put any targets on how many points we are
going to get out of the next two games. I just think that when three points are available, we have to try to get those three points.
“There are a lot of teams in this group who are closely matched and I think there will be points taken off each other. Wales will take points off teams as well. There will be games where people will think ‘that team will win that one’ and it doesn’t happen.” Meanwhile, Belgium have been dealt a setback in their preparations for the upcoming double-header against Serbia and Scotland
after £13 million striker Romelu Lukaku pulled out of the squad through injury.
The young Chelsea striker, who is currently on loan at West Brom, has been forced to withdraw due to an ankle problem.
Lukaku, 19, has already made 17 appearances for
Belgium since making his debut two years ago, and scored his third and most recent international goal in the 4-2 win over
the Netherlands in August.
Belgium travel to Serbia on Friday night before meeting Craig Levein’s men in Brussels next Tuesday.