Wales manager Chris Coleman has confirmed that Gareth Bale will not start in their World Cup 2014 qualifier against Serbia on Tuesday evening due to a groin injury.
Bale, 24, recently completed a world-record move from Tottenham Hotspur to Real Madrid for £85 million, but was an unused substitute during his nation's 2-1 defeat in Macedonia that ended their hopes of progressing to Brazil in 2014.
Coleman seemed to suggest that Bale's place on the bench ahead of the tie against Macedonia was purely mind games and that he was never likely to actually bring the forward on.
"We had a conversation with Gareth before the [Macedonia] game. He had a tight groin from the day before and we could not take that chance," Coleman said ahead of the clash against Serbia in Cardiff.
"As we speak he has gone to have another scan on it to clear his mind so he knows everything is alright."
Bale has failed to feature in a game since 16 July when competing against Swindon Town for Spurs.
The 24-year old has trained since joining up with the Wales squad just days after completing his dream move, however, and Coleman added it was unlikely he will be risked.
"We cannot risk Gareth Bale or any of our players, we've got to send them back to their clubs," he said.
"He's such an athlete and he wanted to come. He came the evening of his unveiling in Madrid, he's trained the next day, he's trained three days- he's not ready."
Despite Coleman's claims, it seems likely that the powers of Real may have intervened in Bale's participation, protecting their prize asset they just paid over £80m for.
Bale is one of a few concerns for Coleman, with captain Ashley Williams unavailable through suspension and 19-year old Jonathan Williams also set to miss out. Despite Williams injury, however, Coleman has declined to call up up a replacement.
"We're thin on the ground going into Serbia, which is not great," Coleman said.
It is not all doom and gloom for Coleman, though, who has Reading's Hal Robson-Kanu available after the midfielder missed the defeat in Skopje through suspension.
Wales currently sit fifth in Group A, just a point above rock-bottom Scotland. Despite having a game in hand over Belgium and Croatia, who currently occupy the qualifying spots, it is now mathematically impossible for them to make their first major international tournament in 57 years.
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