Bale and Ramsey in Wales play-off squad


Aaron Ramsey and Gareth Bale
Aaron Ramsey and Gareth Bale starred for Wales as they reached the Euro 2016 semi-finals
Venue: Cardiff City Stadium Date: Thursday, 24 March Kick-off: 19:45 BST
Coverage: Live BBC Radio Wales, Radio Cymru, BBC Sport website and app, plus live text online. Highlights BBC Two Wales from 23:15 GMT and later on demand

Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey will lead Wales’ World Cup qualifier play-off semi-final challenge against Austria in Cardiff next week.

Wales boss Robert Page will be hoping the influential duo are clear of the injury issues that have disrupted their club seasons.

But Wales will be without keeper Danny Ward, Tyler Roberts and James Lawrence for the match on Thursday, 24 March.

Rabbi Matondo and Tom King are back to help plug those gaps.

Ward is absent because of a knee injury that has led to surgery with his Leicester City boss Brendan Rodgers saying: “He’s out for a number of weeks.”

James Lawrence is also absent as he recovers at St Pauli from a thigh injury.

The inclusion of Bale and Ramsey is a boost – but both have had limited game-time this season.

Captain Bale has made only two appearances for Real Madrid since Wales last played in November.

As for Ramsey, since joining Rangers on loan from Juventus in January, only two of his five appearances have been starts.

With Ward out injured, goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey will reach 100 caps if he plays against Austria and in the friendly – against an unconfirmed opponent – the following week.

The winner of Wales and Austria’s semi-final were due to face the winner of Scotland against Ukraine but, due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, that game has been postponed.

Scotland and Ukraine’s fixture will now be played in June, with the play-off final to follow in the same month.

Austria’s squad includes Bale’s Real Madrid defender team-mate David Alaba and ex-Stoke City and West Ham United forward Marko Arnautovic as well as goalkeeper Daniel Bachmann, who had a loan spell with Wrexham during 2014-15.

Austria boss Franco Foda said: “You could see in the World Cup qualifiers that they [Wales] are very strong, after all they haven’t lost a game at home.

“In general, they concede few goals and are good at switching games. We’ll have a lot of possession, we can’t afford to make any mistakes when passing and we have to avoid counter-attacks.

He added: “Such games are often decided in our heads. We have to be convinced of our own qualities and show a good mentality in the duels.”

Wales squad

Goalkeepers: Hennessey, A Davies, King

Defenders: B Davies, Rodon, Cabango, Ampadu, Mepham, N Williams, Norrington-Davies, Roberts, Gunter, Levitt

Midfielders: Ramsey, Colwill, Morrell, Vaulks, Allen, Wilson, Williams

Forwards: Bale, Johnson, Harris, James, S Thomas, Matondo

Austria squad

Goalkeepers: Bachmann, Lindner, Pentz

Defenders: Alaba, Dragovic, Hinteregger, Lainer, Lienhart, Posch, Trimmel, Ulmer

Midfielders: Baumgartner, Grillitsch, Grull, Laimer, Lazaro, Ljubicic, Sabitzer, Schaub, Schlager, Seiwalk

Forwards: Arnautovic, Gregoritsch, Kalajdzic

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