Harry Redknapp hit back at claims Tottenham sent Gareth Bale to Wales carrying the hamstring injury which has forced him out of Saturday’s Euro 2012 qualifier against England.
Spurs manager Redknapp insists Bale was fully fit when he left the club, although Wales boss Gary Speed is adamant the 21-year-old reported lame, complaining of tight hamstrings.
Speed and his outspoken assistant Raymond Verheijen claimed scans proved Bale pulled a hamstring in his right leg last week, provoking an angry response from White Hart Lane.
‘I wouldn’t have let him go if he had an injury,’ Redknapp told Sportsmail. ‘Gareth played for 90 minutes against West Ham on Saturday and they tell me the figures from that game show he covered more ground than he’s ever done before.
The Tottenham star has been forced to withdraw from the qualifier in Cardiff because of a hamstring injury. We can reveal he will return to London this morning where he will be assessed by his club. A Wales insider said: “It’s a bitter blow for Gareth because he was so keen to play but there is no chance that he’ll be fit in time.” The winger was recently hailed as ‘the best footballer in the Premier League’ on current form by England boss Fabio Capello. But he had only just returned to action for Spurs after six weeks out with a back injury and it is believed his hamstring problem could be related to that.
Bale, 21, pulled up lame in training yesterday and was told he has no chance of being able to face the Three Lions at the Millennium Stadium. But it is hoped he will be fine for his club’s crunch Champions League quarter-final with Real Madrid on April 5. Bale also suffered a knock on his thigh in training with Spurs last week but recovered in time to face West Ham. He has emerged as a leading contender to be named Player of the Year for his performances but there are concerns his rise to stardom has come at a price with the season taking its toll on his body. England striker Peter Crouch knows only too well the threat Bale poses – as a team-mate at Tottenham. Crouch said: “Sometimes he’s just unplayable. What he did to Inter this season showed people what he is capable of.”
‘There was no sign of a hamstring injury. He’s not come in after the game and said his hamstrings were tight.
‘When he left here on Saturday, off he went and he certainly wasn’t injured.
‘He hasn’t had a hamstring injury. He had a back, then he had a tight thigh and we’ve
been very careful with him.
‘The first I heard of it was at 10 o’clock on Wednesday night when our physio called me. I feared the worst but he’s seen our physio and it’s only tightness.
‘There’s no tear but if he plays and it pings, he’s had it.’
Redknapp hopes Bale will be fit to play for Spurs at Wigan, a week on Saturday, and in the first leg of the Champions League quarter-final against Real Madrid in Spain three days later.
Speed said the winger was keen to play against England but had been sent back to his club to avoid risking a more serious injury.
‘The scan was to put his mind at rest but then it showed something. There is a little nick in there, a little fluid. You can tell by the scans he was injured last week.
‘He reported on Sunday and said he felt stiffness with Saturday being his first game in a while. We left him out of training on Sunday and Monday. He did the warm-up on Tuesday and felt a bit of tightness, so we took him off. He didn’t train Wednesday and that’s when we took him for a scan.
‘It was a no-brainer. I might have been able to play because I’m so slow but if you are as explosive as Gareth, it could have been a real problem. We don’t want to be putting him back for the rest of the season. Spurs have got some massive games coming up and the player’s welfare is of paramount importance.’
Dutch coach Verheijen is a fitness and conditioning expert who recently criticised the training methods of Manchester United and Manchester City.
It seemed like a slur on Tottenham but he quickly back-tracked, claiming the ‘incompetent amateurs’ were news organisations reporting Bale had been injured in training with Wales.
Speed, just three months into the job, is anxious not to ruin the relationship with his best player’s club and confirmed he had asked Verheijen to curb his remarks.
He said: ‘He has been an independent consultant for a while but that is different to being part of an association. That is one of the things we have cleared up today.’
Copyright 2011 by Suffian Yans
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