Gareth Bale substituted early after picking up knock against Scotland

Alex Livesey

Gareth Bale was taken off early after an apparent injury to his ankle flared up during Wales' World Cup Qualifying tie with Scotland.

Prior to the early curtailing of his appearance at half-time, which manager Chris Coleman has suggested was merely precautionary, Bale lined up in his now-usual centralized position behind the striker, although faced with a parked Scottish bus in the first half he was forced to drop deep a lot to receive the ball as well as shifting out to the right wing. As ever, he looked a touch uncomfortable having to play trequartista, although I suppose it's unclear in this case whether or not that was more due to his continued lack of familiarity with the role itself or merely the result of some discomfort from the injury he hadn't fully shaken off going into the tie.

Bale was involved in a fair bit of the build-up for Wales' early chances as his side dominated their opponents in the offing, and almost pulled free to tap into an open net after challenging the keeper for a 50/50 ball in the 14th minute. He also managed to notch up Wales' best chance of the half in the 26th minute with a long shot that was well saved by Allan MacGregor. Outside of these two occasions, however, he had a fairly quiet night by his own lofty standards, never threatening to unleash the kind of fireworks his fans are used to seeing at a club level, before the end of his game was spelled in the 30th minute after a hard tackle left him clutching his ankle.

After single-handedly defining the prior qualifier between the two sides and with all of the media focus subsequently directed his way for this occasion, the game was something of an anti-climax for Bale, providing no hints at answers to questions going into it over whether he's getting comfortable playing at central attacking midfield yet, whether he can cope with having to put a team on his back under pressure on a regular basis, and crucially whether he will return to Spurs fit enough to resuming helping the side turn around their miserable League form. However, I'm willing to write off his tame performance as the result of an injury, and am naturally pleased he was allowed to come off early instead of aggravating his injury trying to turn the tie into the Gareth Bale Show for the second time. At least, I hope that's what happened.

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