Gareth Bale ready to silence critics and fire Wales to the World Cup finals, says Dragons boss Chris Coleman

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Gareth Bale is ready to silence his Real Madrid critics and fire Wales' World Cup dream, according to Chris Coleman.

Bale has had a difficult start to the season in Spain after a summer of transfer speculation and was jeered by sections of the Bernabeu crowd in Sunday's 2-2 LaLiga home draw with Valencia.

But Bale is always welcome in his homeland and the 28-year-old - who has again been linked with a move to Manchester United before Thursday's transfer deadline - will have a huge role to play as Wales seek to keep their 2018 World Cup qualification hopes alive.

Wales are at home to Austria on Saturday and away to Moldova three days later as Coleman's men seek to cut the four-point gap on Group D pace-setters Serbia and the Republic of Ireland.

"Knowing him for the last five or six years, he won't be any different," Wales manager Coleman said in response to the latest criticism Bale has faced.

"People wondered how he would handle it when he went to Real Madrid because you are like a film star there, but he absolutely cruised through it.

"He's answered all the critics. He's matured in the last four or five years and come through it with flying colours.

"So this latest episode won't faze him at all.

"He was disappointed to miss the Serbia game (through suspension), but he looks good and wants to help us qualify."

Real boss Zinedine Zidane backed Bale to succeed in Madrid after the Valencia game, saying he is a "key player" in his squad.

But Marco Asensio scored both Real goals on Sunday and, with the suspended Cristiano Ronaldo due to return after the international break, sections of the Madrid press want the young Spanish foward to keep his place at Bale's expense.

"There's been a couple of periods where he has been under a lot of pressure, but all he needs to do is put his medals up," Coleman said.

"Yes, he's had one or two injuries but he's won three Champions Leagues.

"No one else has ever gone to a foreign club from this country and done that. Absolutely nobody can doubt him.

"He's always a story, he's one of the best players in the world. Things will be said and that's the way it is. He knows that."

Wales are confident Aaron Ramsey will be fit for their World Cup double-header despite the Arsenal midfielder missing training on Tuesday.

Ramsey suffered a kick to the calf during the Gunners' 4-0 Premier League defeat at Liverpool on Sunday and was substituted at half-time.

It is understood Ramsey sat out the training session as a precaution.

Wales already have midfield concerns with Joe Allen suspended for the Austria game and Emyr Huws ruled out by an Achilles problem.

Joe Ledley, who is still without a club after leaving Crystal Palace in June, has not played this season, while Leicester's Andy King and Reading new boy David Edwards have also had limited game-time.

See full story in the Free Press

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