Ryan Giggs has backed star man Gareth Bale to shine for Wales despite his problems at Real Madrid, where he has been targeted by disgruntled fans.
Bale has won four Champions League trophies in Spain but has been consistently relegated to the bench in recent weeks as Real’s season has unravelled.
The 29-year-old’s limited integration into Spanish life has also drawn fire and Monday’s return of Zinedine Zidane as manager in place of the sacked Santiago Solari may also make the situation more difficult for Bale.
Bale and Zidane were barely speaking during the second half of last season and Bale is understood to be less than enthused by the Frenchman’s return. A clean slate is possible but a parting of the ways appears more likely.
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The Welshman is currently nursing an ankle injury suffered on Champions League duty but Wales boss Giggs is confident that he will have recovered in time to play in Wales’s opening Euro 2020 qualifier against Slovakia on March 24.
“He’s an experienced player. He’s a quality player and a quality person,” Giggs said after naming a 31-man squad for a Wrexham friendly with Trinidad and Tobago on March 20 and the Slovakia game in Cardiff.
“I expect Gareth to turn up and do what he always does, give everyone a lift. When he plays for Wales, he gives 100 percent and more often than not he performs well.
“I don’t expect anything different because he’s always brilliant around the camp.”
Giggs said the forward has proved he is strong enough to handle any flak that comes his way.
“I played for (Manchester) United and you are open to criticism when you are at a big club,” Giggs said.
“Everyone has had it. The two Ronaldos had it out in Madrid, Gareth has had it.
“You have to put up with that, just like you have to put up with all the adulation when you win leagues and Champions Leagues.”
Giggs confirmed that Ashley Williams will remain Wales captain for the European Championship campaign.
The 83-times capped central defender, now 34 and on-loan at Stoke from Everton, has worn the Wales armband since 2012.
“He will be the captain as long as he is in the squad,” Giggs said.