A last-gasp penalty from Rhys Priestland denied 14-man Australia a memorable comeback against Wales at the Principality Stadium on Saturday.

Smarting from a 32-15 defeat to England last time out, the Wallabies were up against it when Rob Valetini's red card and a 10-point deficit left them staring at a potentially heavy defeat.

However, Wales – who survived a scare against Fiji after despite Eroni Sau's red card – were pegged back and it required steely nerves from Priestland beyond the 80-minute mark to secure a 29-28 win.

Australia began in brilliant fashion as Andrew Kellaway collected a grubber and touched down, although Dan Biggar quickly reduced the deficit with a penalty, but the match swung firmly Wales' way when Valetini was shown red for a dangerous high tackle that left Adam Beard bleeding, Biggar then kicking a further three points.

Although James O'Connor's penalty put the 14 men ahead, Kurtley Beale was sent to the sin bin for a deliberate knock-on and Ryan Elias scored Wales' first try after good work at the resulting lineout.

O'Connor and Biggar exchanged further penalties and the latter converted after Nick Tomkins intercepted a pass and scored a simple try, with a TMO check allowing it to stand.

Then came the threat of a late surprise. Nic White finished a fine move involving Beale, and although Biggar's boot stretched Wales' lead again, Filipo Daugunu touched down in the corner with O'Connor's kick striking the post to spare the hosts.

Beale's kick then put Australia ahead with two minutes to play, but after winning a penalty inside the visitors' 22 in the 81st minute, Priestland kept his nerve to send Cardiff into raptures.

Real Madrid head coach Carlo Ancelotti has questioned whether Gareth Bale should have played for Wales during the international break.

Bale has not played for the LaLiga club since August after suffering a knee injury against Real Betis.

The former Tottenham forward made his 100th senior international appearance for Wales in the 5-1 win over Belarus, but picked up a calf injury in that game and is now expected to miss several more weeks.

"He had recovered [from the knee injury]. Wales thought he was fit enough to play," Ancelotti told reporters at a media conference ahead of Sunday's trip to Granada.

"Perhaps they shouldn't have played him, but we have to make sure he recovers now because he could be a very useful player for the rest of this season and we hope to have him back soon.

"Gareth is an important player for Wales and he likes playing for his national team, but he also wants to play for Real Madrid. You can see when he trains with the effort and work he puts in. Of course, if he wants to play for his national team, he has to play well for Real Madrid and train well too."

Ancelotti was also asked about Eden Hazard, who was recently described as "sad in footballing terms" by Belgium head coach Roberto Martinez.

The former Chelsea attacker has made just four starts for Real Madrid this season, and Ancelotti understands his frustration.

"Of course, Hazard, like most players who don't play often, is unhappy," he said. "To be honest, I would be unhappy if he wasn't. You want players to try and fight for a first team spot.

"He's had a stomach bug and needs two or three days rest. It's not Covid. It's like a stomach flu."

The former Everton boss also wanted to make clear his frustration at the number of games his team has to play before the winter break, with nine games scheduled in a 31-day period.

"The players, clubs and managers have all come out and said there are too many games," Ancelotti exclaimed. "Something has to change. The way football is working right now isn't good for the sport, and changes have to be good changes, not decisions that lack common sense."

The 62-year-old was also asked about the recent appointment of Xavi at Barcelona, saying: "I'm sure Xavi is going to bring something different to the club.

"I'm sure we are going to be fighting them for the title, and I'd like to discover if there is anything different with this Barcelona side as soon as possible."

Josh Adams has been passed fit to start for Wales and Pete Samu replaces Michael Hooper in the Australia team for Saturday's Test at the at Principality Stadium.

Adams missed the 38-23 defeat of Fiji last weekend due to a calf injury, but the winger will face the Wallabies.

Uilisi Halaholo and Nick Tompkins are Wayne Pivac's centre pairing, while the fit-again Aaron Wainwright is back at number eight.

Wyn Jones and Tomas Francis return to the starting line-up for what will be the final Test of the year for both sides.

Samu comes into the Australia team in the absence of Hooper, who suffered a foot injury in the loss to England at Twickenham last Saturday.

Props Taniela Tupou and Allan Alaalatoa return after missing the defeat to the Red Rose due to concussion, while Tolu Latu starts at hooker and Filipo Daugunu gets the nod on the wing alongside Andrew Kellaway.

Centre Lalakai Foketi is set to make his debut off the bench, with James Slipper taking over as skipper.

 

Wales team: Liam Williams, Louis Rees-Zammit, Nick Tompkins, Uilisi Halaholo, Josh Adams, Dan Biggar, Tomos Williams; Wyn Jones, Ryan Elias, Tomas Francis, Adam Beard, Seb Davies, Ellis Jenkins (captain), Taine Basham, Aaron Wainwright.

Replacements: Elliot Dee, Gareth Thomas, Dillon Lewis, Ben Carter, Christ Tshiunza, Gareth Davies, Rhys Priestland, Johnny McNicholl.

Australia team: Kurtley Beale, Andrew Kellaway, Len Ikitau, Hunter Paisami, Filipo Daugunu, James O'Connor, Nic White; James Slipper (captain), Tolu Latu, Taniela Tupou, Rory Arnold, Izack Rodda, Rob Leota, Pete Samu, Rob Valetini.

Replacements: Folau Fainga'a, Angus Bell, Allan Alaalatoa, Will Skelton, Lachlan Swinton, Tate McDermott, Lalakai Foketi, Tom Wright.

Aaron Ramsey and Kieffer Moore insisted Wales will not fear facing any of their potential opponents on home soil in the World Cup play-offs for Qatar 2022.

Wales finished second in Group E to earn home advantage in March's play-offs after they fought back from a goal down to draw 1-1 with Belgium on Tuesday.

Kevin De Bruyne had put Belgium ahead early in the game before Moore equalised just after the half hour.

Moore's goal was his eighth for Wales since making his international debut in September 2019 – more than any other Wales player in that time.

"It's so important to get a home draw," Moore told Sky Sports.

"If you look at the teams that have come in second, the likes of Portugal and Italy - it's been a bit nervy. But nights like this, I'd back us to take on anyone.

"We left everything out there. We gave everything for that performance because we knew we needed a result.

"The noise after that goal, it was just incredible. I can't explain it, I was lost for words. It's some feeling, I'll say that. The Red Wall [Wales fans] are amazing.

"We knew that Belgium would try and keep as much possession as much as possible so we knew we had to be compact, be tight and not let them through us so that we could get them on the counter-attack."

Wales have lost just two of their last 20 World Cup qualifying matches (won nine, drawn nine) and are unbeaten in their last seven heading into the play-offs next March.

They have also finished in the top two of a World Cup qualifying group for the first time since qualification for the 1966 World Cup, when they finished second (only the first-placed teams qualified that year).

Wales captain Ramsey hailed the willingness of his team-mates put their heads where it hurts against Belgium to clinch a play-off spot.

He added: "Full credit to the boys, they put in a massive shift again against top opposition.

"We always believed we could get a result, especially with our fans behind us. It's another good night for us.

"We build our foundations on everybody putting in a shift for each other, putting their bodies on the line, and we managed to do that again tonight.

"There's some big, big teams still in it but it was so important that we had a home tie. You could see the atmosphere tonight – it's a special place to come and play. Hopefully that will give us an extra edge in that first play-off."

Wales boss Robert Page acknowledged his side suffered from the absence of the injured Gareth Bale against Belgium, with hopes of reaching first World Cup since 1958 now tantalising within reach.

He said: "We're always going to miss Gareth but there's so much he brings to this team off the pitch too, just having him around the dressing room. He wanted to be with us tonight, he's a proper captain.

"When the crowd is behind us like it was tonight, we'll take on anyone. We're not done yet; we're dreaming of a World Cup but it's definitely achievable."

Kieffer Moore secured a home World Cup qualifying play-off semi-final for Wales as Belgium were held to a 1-1 draw at Cardiff City Stadium on Tuesday.

Robert Page's side were already assured of a play-off spot, but they headed into the final Group E game desperate to be among the six top seeds.

Although Kevin De Bruyne put an under-strength Belgium – already assured of a place in the tournament in Qatar next year as group winners – in front, Moore equalised in the first half.

Neither side could fashion a winner, but Wales sealed second place and face a home play-off tie in March when they will hope to have captain Gareth Bale – absent here – back to full fitness.

De Bruyne silenced the Wales fans when he opened the scoring 12 minutes in, the stand-in captain finding the bottom-right corner with a measured finish after a poor attempted clearance from Chris Mepham.

Wales took that setback on the chin, capitalising on slack defending to equalise when Arthur Theate missed his kick as he tried to deal with Dan James' cross and Moore finished clinically with his left foot 13 minutes before half-time.

Thorgan Hazard struck the post when he met a pinpoint De Bruyne corner with a sublime volley from just outside the penalty area as Belgium finished the first half strongly.

An unmarked Connor Roberts spurned a chance to put Wales in front when he sliced a long way wide after a James cross fell nicely for him early in the second half.

Dante Vanzeir came on to make his debut as Roberto Martinez made a triple substitution before the hour-mark.

Neco Williams almost won it when he cut in from the left and brought a fine save from Koen Casteels, but a point was enough for Wales to achieve their objective.

 

Australia captain Michael Hooper will be absent for the Wallabies' final Autumn Nations Series game against Wales on Saturday. 

Hooper was forced off injured during the second half of Australia's 32-15 loss to England at Twickenham last weekend, which followed a 15-13 defeat to Scotland. 

The Wallabies confirmed on Twitter that scans carried out on the flanker revealed he had suffered a midfoot sprain and would be unavailable to take on Wales at the Principality Stadium. 

The news came after Hooper was revealed to be one of four players in contention for the World Rugby Men's 15s Player of the Year award. He is up against Antoine Dupont, Maro Itoje and Samu Kerevi in the fan vote. 

Australia have only won two of their past 10 away Tests against European teams, losing eight. However, one of those victories came against Wales in Cardiff in 2017. 

Gareth Bale will not start when Wales face Belgium in Cardiff for their final World Cup Group E qualifying match as he continues to recover from a hamstring injury.

Wales are already assured of a place in the play-offs going into Tuesday's game due to their Nations League results.

But they need at least a point against Belgium to be sure of finishing second to Roberto Martinez's men in the pool, which would give them the best chance of a home draw in the play-off semi-finals. 

The Czech Republic are still in with a chance of catching Wales.

Real Madrid attacker Bale won his 100th cap from the start as Wales thrashed Belarus 5-1 on Saturday before being taken off at half-time in a planned substitution.

But if Bale, who has only appeared three times for Madrid this season, is to play any part against Belgium, it will be as a substitute and even that depends on how well he responds to training on Monday, which he completed individually away from the rest of the squad.

"He was never going to start against Belgium and we knew that coming into camp," said Wales boss Rob Page.

"The plan was always for him to get a half in the first game and then come on and maybe have an impact in the second game.

"He is going to be stiff. He has not played for a couple of months and to throw him in for that game was a big ask from a physical point of view.

"He's done his own recovery and we'll leave it to the last minute to see if he can any play minutes. He is getting there, slowly but surely.

"We will get him back to full fitness. It is frustrating for him. He made a tremendous effort to get fit for the game and he takes credit for that."

Wales captain Bale may not face his Madrid team-mates Thibaut Courtois and Eden Hazard as the Belgium duo are not expected to travel for the match, with their country's place in Qatar already secured.

Belgium's progression to the World Cup was sealed with a win over Estonia, who are the Czech Republic's last opponents at the same time as Wales and Belgium do battle.

Gareth Bale is determined to mark his landmark 100th cap for Wales by helping to push his side closer towards a first World Cup appearance in 64 years.

Real Madrid forward Bale has been out of action since sustaining a hamstring injury in Wales' goalless draw with Estonia on September 8, missing his club's last 13 matches.

The 32-year-old's three appearances for the Dragons this season is as many as he has managed in all competitions for Madrid since returning from a loan stint with Tottenham.

Despite his latest spell on the sidelines, Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti gave his blessing for Bale to link up with Robert Page's side for their games with Belarus and Belgium.

Bale has declared himself ready for Saturday's clash with Belarus, which would make him just the second player after Chris Gunter (106) to reach a century of caps for Wales.

"I'm not in peak condition like I was before, but I've worked as hard as ever to get back in time," Bale said at a pre-match news conference on Friday.

"I'm as fit as I can be but the match fitness is not there. All I can do is give my best. I'm not sure I'll be able to play the whole game, but I'm here to give 100 per cent.

"Reaching 100 caps will be an incredible achievement. It's nice for me and my family, but the most important thing is the game and not the occasion.

"Hopefully I can enjoy it after the game, which is [a] must-win for us. For the time being it's easy to wander back but all focus needs to be on the game."

 

Bale has played in two European Championships with Wales, reaching the semi-finals in 2016 and last 16 earlier this year, but has yet to have a taste of the World Cup.

The Dragons are already assured of a spot in March's play-offs, but they are now aiming to finish above the Czech Republic in second place in Group E to secure a home tie.

For Bale, a winner of 13 trophies at club level, including four Champions Leagues, reaching a first World Cup since 1958 with Wales is next on his wishlist.

"We've got to try to push and qualify for the World Cup now. It's an important game for us to win," he said.

"We've all [got to] give it our 100 per cent best, never have any regrets and always fight to the end. We have a chance to do it now and we have to try and capitalise on it."

Asked if he would swap one of his European Cup triumphs to qualify for the World Cup, Bale said: "It's difficult to say, but we'll fight until the death to achieve that.

"We'll fight as hard as we can in these last couple of games."

Bale's importance to Wales since making his first appearance against Trinidad and Tobago in May 2006 cannot be understated.

Wales have won 48 and drawn 14 of the previous 99 games with Bale in their side for a win rate of 48.5 per cent, which drops to 27.7 per cent in the 47 games he has not played in.

The Madrid man has scored 36 goals for the Dragons, 20 of those coming during Chris Coleman's tenure between 2012 and 2017.

He also scored once under Brian Flynn, two under John Toshack, three during the late Gary Speed's reign, three under current incumbent Page and seven with Ryan Giggs in charge.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, given Wales' run to the Euro semi-finals, 2016 was Bale's most prolific calendar year with seven strikes, followed by the five he managed in 2015 and 2018.

Bale has faced 44 different opponents across his 15-year international career, with Finland the side he has come up against most often (six times), while Andorra, Belarus and China (three goals against each) are his favourite opponents.

Speaking alongside Bale on Friday, interim head coach Page said: "Looking back at Euro 2016 when I was a supporter was tremendous and being part of his journey, he's just as enthusiastic today as he was then. 

"It's been a pleasure to work with him and be a part of his journey. Humble is the right word. He's a prankster among the group. He's jovial and wears the armband with pride. 

"He's absolutely a superstar and I do think a lot of youngsters look up to him and the way he takes care of himself. He's been an inspiration to a lot of children."

South Africa held their nerve in a terrific tussle to win 23-18 against a Wales side who were left to bemoan the moment a pitch invader cost them a likely try.

On a wet evening at the Principality Stadium, this game remained on a knife-edge throughout, the only points coming from the boots of Dan Biggar, Handre Pollard and Frans Steyn until Malcolm Marx crossed the Welsh line seven minutes from the end.

Elton Jantjies booted a penalty with the last kick of the contest, resulting in the five-point winning margin.

Wales had been level at 15-15 in the 63rd minute when a spectator burst onto the pitch and got in the way just as a chance to break through the South Africa defence presented itself.

Liam Williams looked to have a near-enough clear run to the left corner, but the presence of the intruder, with security staff looking to grapple him away from the action, meant momentum went and the chance was lost.

This was a thundering clash throughout, South Africa handling the early threat posed by Wales wing Louis Rees-Zammit, as Biggar and Pollard kept the scoreboard ticking along.

Both sides had a player yellow-carded for persistent team infringements before the break, with Ox Nche and Rhys Carre sent to the bin, and Wales led 12-9 at the break.

The hosts nudged 15-9 ahead but were pegged back to 15-15 as South Africa rallied after a penalty from within his own half by Steyn. Wales then moved in front again after Biggar's sixth penalty, which followed moments after the intruder was escorted away, with supporters in the stands directing their anger his way.

South Africa's Makazole Mapimpi sprinted through to dot down but a TMO review picked up an offence and chalked it off. There was no denying the Boks in the 73rd minute though, when they drove irresistibly over the Welsh line, Marx grounding the ball.

Jantjies, on for Pollard, missed the conversion attempt from close to the touchline, meaning South Africa were just two points clear, but Wales could not find a response.


Close... as it was bound to be

It is now the case that 13 of the last 15 meetings between these teams have been decided by single-figure margins, with 11 of those games seeing the sides separated by six points or fewer at the final whistle.

Friend or foe?

It was unclear how or why the intruder came to be on the pitch, but Wales had every cause to be furious about the fan's presence. There was no doubt he was a distraction just as Wales got themselves into a position to threaten the try-line. Had Wales got over at that stage, there might have been a very different outcome.

Defending champions Wales are set to be without captain Alun Wyn Jones for the Six Nations due to a shoulder injury.

Jones was ruled out of the remainder of the Autumn Nations Series, as he requires surgery due to the damage done in a crushing 54-16 defeat to New Zealand last weekend.

Wales head coach Wayne Pivac does not expect the most capped player of all time to play any part when the holders bid to retain their Six Nations title next year.

Pivac said on Thursday: "I don't think he'll be available for the Six Nations.

"You learn a lot about the worth of people when they're not there. I think a lot of people take Alun Wyn for granted – he's always been there and got seniority.

"That leadership is really important. The essence is on others to step up and take that role on."

Jones, who astonishingly recovered from a shoulder injury to captain the British and Irish Lions in South Africa, is in the twilight of his career at the age of 35.

Pivac believes the inspirational towering lock, who won a world record 149th Wales cap in the loss to the All Blacks, can play in the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France.

"The intention is always to see if Al can get to the World Cup. I think it's a realistic goal personally," the New Zealander said.

"You've just got to see him in training and when he's playing, the efforts he puts in. I don't see anything going anywhere near backwards in terms of his performances.

"A bit of time off, we spoke about this before Al left camp. It's not ideal for him. We're all looking forward to him playing 150 Test matches for Wales, but that is still a goal and I'm sure he'll get there."

Pivac has made six changes to the starting XV for the showdown with South Africa at the Principality Stadium on Saturday, with Ellis Jenkins replacing Ross Moriarty (shoulder) in what will be his first Test for three years after recovering from a knee injury.

Dan Biggar returns at fly-half, while wing Louis Rees-Zammit, centre Nick Tompkins and prop Rhys Carre also start and Jonathan Davies takes over as captain.
 

Wales team: Johnny McNicholl, Louis Rees-Zammit, Jonathan Davies (captain), Nick Tompkins, Josh Adams, Dan Biggar, Tomos Williams; Rhys Carre, Ryan Elias, Tomas Francis, Will Rowlands, Adam Beard, Ellis Jenkins, Taine Basham, Aaron Wainwright.

Replacements: Bradley Roberts, Wyn Jones, WillGriff John, Ben Carter, Seb Davies, Gareth Davies, Gareth Anscombe, Liam Williams.

Beauden Barrett bagged a pair of tries on his 100th Test appearance for New Zealand as the All Blacks swept away Wales 54-16 amid a deluge of late tries in Cardiff.

A week after they thrashed the United States 104-14 in Washington, New Zealand found greater resistance in the Welsh capital, but they eventually took the game away from their hosts, turning a spicy Autumn Nations Series contest into a drubbing.

Barrett took New Zealand beyond 50 points in the 79th minute with his second try of the match, and the visitors' seventh in total.

New Zealand raced into a fourth-minute lead, centurion Barrett intercepting a pass from Gareth Anscombe and charging through to score under the posts.

Try-scorer Barrett was spared a yellow card after a seemingly deliberate knock-on, before Wales lost Alun Wyn Jones to injury on the day the captain beat Richie McCaw's record tally of 148 caps for an international team. Jones suffered the upper-body blow when tackling Jordie Barrett.

New Zealand were well on top and had a second try in the 34th minute when scrum-half TJ Perenara scuttled in from close range. Prop Nepo Laulala was then only yellow-carded after making heavy contact with the head of Ross Moriarty in a tackle, perhaps a let-off for the tourists.

Kicking from Anscombe, Jordie Barrett and Rhys Priestland kept the scoreboard ticking along, before wing Will Jordan produced a thrilling third All Blacks try, chipping ahead and sprinting through to collect and dot down.

Johnny Williams thrilled the home crowd when he threw himself on Priestland's skidding kick behind the All Blacks defence, narrowing the gap to 28-16.

Then came the New Zealand surge, as Dalton Papalii exploited a gap in the Wales defence from a lineout to inflict more punishment, Sevu Reece exchanged passes on the left with Ardie Savea before dashing in, and Anton Lienert-Brown raced to the corner on the opposite flank.

Beauden Barrett had the final say, another interception seeing him gain possession on halfway, reading the pass from Johnny McNicholl and driving to the line.


Barrett times it to perfection

Moments after he was announced to the crowd as man of the match, Barrett turned on the afterburners for a second time. It was a fitting way for his match to end.

He told Amazon Prime it had been a demanding week, given the focus on him.

"I've spent a bit of time reminiscing this week and I've tried not to overdo it because we had a job in hand tonight and I wanted to focus on playing well," Barrett said. "Tonight, I'll enjoy my boys' company and thank all those people who have helped me along the journey."

Joy for Jordan

Jordan's try here was one even the most ardent Wales supporter must have admired. The decision to chip and the execution both smacked of a player with unwavering self-belief. Jordan has now scored 16 tries in Test rugby since his debut for New Zealand, twice as many as any other Tier 1 player in that period.

Alun Wyn Jones will surpass Richie McCaw's record tally of 148 caps for his country when Wales face New Zealand in a mouthwatering Autumn Nations Series clash on Saturday.

Wales captain Jones matched legendary former All Blacks captain McCaw's astonishing number of Test appearances when he faced Scotland last year.

The British and Irish Lions skipper will set a new record for games played for a country at Principality Stadium this weekend.

Jones, who has played in 12 Lions Tests, will lead out a Wales side that has a blend of experience and youth.

 

Taine Basham made his first start at international level in the back row and Gareth Anscombe makes his return at fly-half against his country of birth over two years after his last Test appearance.

Anscombe has impressed after spending such a long spell on the sidelines with a knee injury.

Ken Owens was initially selected at hooker, but has since been replaced by Ryan Elias due to a back injury, with Kirby Myhill named on the bench.

Hooker Elliot Dee has been released from the Six Nations champions' squad due to a neck injury.

Wales head coach Wayne Pivac said: "To win a World Cup you have to play against teams like New Zealand at some stage in the tournament and you have to win those games.

"It’s going to be a great experience for those guys who haven't played a lot of test rugby and they'll certainly know they’ve been in a match afterwards."

Wales have won only three of 35 Tests against the All Blacks ahead of the showdown in Cardiff.

 

Wales: Johnny McNicholl, Owen Lane, Jonathan Davies, Johnny Williams, Josh Adams, Gareth Anscombe, Tomos Williams; Wyn Jones, Ryan Elias, Tomas Francis, Adam Beard, Alun Wyn Jones (captain), Ross Moriarty, Taine Basham, Aaron Wainwright.

Replacements: Kirby Myhill, Rhys Carre, Dillon Lewis, Will Rowlands, Seb Davies, Gareth Davies, Rhys Priestland, Ben Thomas.

David Brooks is confident he will make a full recovery and return to playing after the Bournemouth and Wales midfielder was diagnosed with cancer.

Brooks was with the Wales squad last week but left international duty and underwent a medical examination, which found he has stage two Hodgkin lymphoma.

The 24-year-old will undergo treatment next week.

He said in a statement: "This is a very difficult message for me to write. 

"I have been diagnosed with stage two Hodgkin lymphoma and will begin a course of treatment next week.

"Although this has come as a shock to myself and my family, the prognosis is a positive one and I am confident that I will make a full recovery and be back playing as soon as possible. 

"I'd like to show my appreciation to the doctors, nurses, consultants and staff who have been treating me for their professionalism, warmth and understanding during this period.

"I want to thank everyone at the Football Association of Wales because without the swift attention of their medical team we may not have detected the illness.

"I'd also like to say thank you to AFC Bournemouth for all their support and assistance this past week.

"Although I appreciate that there will be media attention and interest, I would like to ask that my privacy is respected in the coming months and I will share updates on my progress when I am able to do so.

"In the meantime, thank you to everyone for their messages of support – it means so much and will continue to do so in the months ahead.

"I look forward to seeing you all again and playing the sport I love very soon."

Brooks joined Bournemouth from Sheffield United in 2018 and enjoyed an impressive first season with the club, scoring seven goals and assisting five in 33 games in all competitions.

Injuries limited Brooks the following year as Bournemouth were relegated, but he impressed again in the Championship, this time with 13 goal involvements across all competitions.

This term, he has three goals in nine matches.

Aaron Ramsey hinted at frustration with life at Juventus as he insisted his fitness is not a problem when he is "managed correctly".

The midfielder has only played four times under Massimiliano Allegri this season, last appearing as a second-half substitute in the 3-2 win over Sampdoria on September 26.

The Bianconeri said last week Ramsey was suffering from "muscle fatigue" and recent reports have indicated they are ready to listen to offers for the former Arsenal man, who joined the club in July 2019 on a contract reported to be worth upwards of €450,000 per week.

His time in Turin has been dogged by injury issues, though. Ramsey has only started 25 matches in Serie A, playing 2,238 minutes in total – just seven minutes more than Blaise Matuidi, who left for Inter Miami in August 2020.

However, the 30-year-old, who is set to captain Wales in Friday's World Cup qualifier against the Czech Republic, suggested a different approach to his training and recovery could see Juve get more use out of him.

"I know what I can do and with the right management I can stay fit for a long period of time and play a lot of games," he said. "I'm still feeling good when given the opportunity and managed correctly.

 

"It has been frustrating that I have picked up these little niggly injuries, which have cost me a lot of games and meant I have missed some important games for Wales in the last couple of years.

"The training philosophy and methods are different at my club than they are here. There are a number of people here who have a number of years of managing me, so they know how to get the best out of me, and so I am able to play a number of games in a row. As I showed in the Euros this year, I'm capable of doing that and producing good performances.

"My outputs in games are pretty high, and maybe I need a bit more rest and recovery throughout the week rather than being on the grass for a long period of time and carrying more fatigue into games. Recovery is a big part of that for me."

Ramsey will lead out his country in the absence of the injured Gareth Bale, with Wales knowing a win would take them above the Czech Republic and into second in Group E with a game in hand.

"It means everything to me to play for Wales," he said. "I am so proud to represent my country.

"I have been as frustrated as anybody else over the amount of game I have missed in the past few years.

"I am happy to be back involved. I am looking forward to these two games, and to lead the boys out will be that extra bit special.

"I have experienced it before, and I loved every minute of it, and I am sure it will be a very proud moment for me and my family."

Gareth Bale has been ruled out of Wales' crucial World Cup qualifying double-header next month with what boss Rob Page describes as a "significant hamstring tear".

The 32-year-old has not featured for club or country since sustaining the injury during a training session with Real Madrid three weeks ago.

Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti recently said he is unsure how long Bale will be out but there was hope he would be back in time for Wales' trips to the Czech Republic and Estonia.

However, Bale – who is one cap short of a milestone 100 for Wales – was left out of Page's squad on Tuesday and is also a doubt for his side's final three qualifiers in November.

"Hamstring injuries are graded from one to four and this is a four. It's a significant hamstring tear," Page said at a news conference.

"This camp has come too soon for him. He's not going to be involved, and that may also be the case progressing to November's camp."    

Bale started Madrid's opening three games of the season and featured in all three of Wales' matches last month, scoring a hat-trick in the 3-2 win away at Belarus.

That ended a 17-game drought without a goal for the Dragons – his second-longest such run – but he could not find a way through in the goalless draw with Estonia last time out.

Wales are third in Group E after four matches, one point behind next opponents the Czech Republic with a game in hand as the pair fight for second place behind runaway leaders Belgium.

Page's side will head into that clash in Prague without undisputed star player Bale, who has been involved in all five of his side's goals this campaign (three goals and two assists).

"He's been first class for Wales over the years, so of course it's a blow for myself and the supporters," Page said. "But it does give others a chance.

"We can't cry about it. Gareth showed his worth in the last camp and he was at another level.

"We've got new players coming through, and an abundance of players who can fill the position he plays. There aren't many Gareth Bales in the world but others will have a chance." 

 

Juventus midfielder Aaron Ramsey is back involved for Wales after withdrawing from the last squad through injury.

Ramsey has featured four times in Serie A this term and leads the way for passes per 90 minutes (67.71) and successful passes (61.71) among Juventus midfielders.

He has missed several key fixtures for Wales this campaign, but Page insists the former Arsenal man's commitment cannot be questioned.

"We're confident he'll be with us," Page said.

"I understand the fans' frustration because they want the best players turning up. He can put a shift in and did a full pre-season with Juventus.

"Players like him are prone to picking up injuries. He's managing his body better now and I think we're seeing the best of it.

"He's become more robust and shown over the summer he's more capable of playing games. His training will be adapted but we expect him to play both games."

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