Talking points as Wales take on Belgium in the Nations League

Wales head to Belgium on Thursday to play their penultimate game before the World Cup in November.

The Dragons are bottom of their Nations League section, while second-placed Belgium are trying to chase down group leaders Holland.

Here are the main talking points surrounding the Brussels clash.

Bale wait

Skipper Gareth Bale has joined up with the Wales squad for the first time as a Los Angeles FC player. But Bale’s starting role is in doubt after his late arrival from California. The 33-year-old was a 62nd-minute substitute in LAFC’s 3-1 victory over Houston Dynamo in the early hours of Monday morning (UK time). Bale did not arrive in Wales until Tuesday afternoon, and boss Robert Page will weigh up the effects of jet lag before deciding whether he starts in Brussels or takes a place on the bench.

Teenage talent

Teenagers Luke Harris and Jordan James could get the chance to stake World Cup claims against Belgium and Poland this week. The midfield pair have been called up following injuries to Aaron Ramsey, Joe Allen and Harry Wilson. Harris, who has a remarkable scoring record for Fulham’s age-grade sides, only turned 17 in April and could become the fourth-youngest Welshman to play for his country. Hereford-born James, 18, gets the chance after impressing for Birmingham and returning to the Wales fold after playing for England Under-20s in March.

Re-energised Rodon

Joe Rodon has swapped Tottenham for Rennes in Ligue 1 this season (PA)

Page was delighted with the summer transfer window that saw much of his squad switch clubs in the pursuit of game time ahead of the World Cup. But Joe Rodon’s loan move from Tottenham to Rennes delighted him more than most. Rodon was a cornerstone of the side that qualified for Qatar, but Page had expressed concern over the centre-half’s lack of first-team football. Rodon has hit the ground running in France, producing some measured displays in their impressive start to the Ligue 1 campaign.

Relegation battle

Wales’ Nations League campaign has suffered from conceding late goals (David Davies/PA)

Wales are hoping their stay in the top tier of the Nations League is not a brief one. Late goals have haunted their campaign with points against Poland and Holland, twice, conceded at the death. Despite those three defeats, Wales can still avoid relegation – and one win might do. Even if they lose in Brussels, beating Poland in Cardiff on Sunday might be enough to keep them in League A, depending on the Poles’ result against Holland on Thursday.

Story continues

Familiar foes

Wales and Belgium have seen a lot of each other over the last 10 years. This will be their ninth meeting in the last decade with the score even so far – two wins apiece and four draws. Wales’ wins came in Euro 2016 qualification, Bale scoring the winner on an electric night in Cardiff, and the quarter-final of that tournament itself, 3-1 in Lille. Brennan Johnson’s late equaliser in Cardiff three months ago secured Wales’ only point of this Nations League campaign.


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