Jose Mourinho has been told that Wales will “absolutely look after Gareth Bale” after the Tottenham winger was declared fit to face the USMNT in a friendly on Thursday, despite Mourinho warning against “destroying the work” Spurs have done to return the on-loan Real Madrid player to full fitness.
Bale has yet to complete a full 90 minutes for Spurs since returning to the club in September, but he faces the prospect of three games in six days with Wales playing the U.S. in Swansea before UEFA Nations League clashes against Republic of Ireland (Nov. 15) and Finland (Nov. 18).
– Stream ESPN FC Daily on ESPN+ (U.S. only)
– MLS on ESPN+: Stream LIVE games and replays (U.S. only)
– ESPN+ viewer’s guide: Bundesliga, Serie A, MLS, FA Cup and more
The 31-year-old is expected to start the game against Gregg Berhalter’s team on the substitutes’ bench on Thursday ahead of starting roles against Ireland and Finland.
Wales embark on their three-game schedule with assistant manager Rob Page deputising for manager Ryan Giggs, who is absent due to allegations of assault, which he denies. And Page has told Mourinho that Wales will no jeopardise the fitness of Bale, or any player in the squad, this week.
“I can empathise with what Jose is saying because I have been a club manager myself,” Page said during a Zoom press conference on Wednesday.
“We are borrowing his players so they can play for Wales, so we are absolutely going to look after them.
“We are not going to undo any work that has been done at club level, irrespective of whether that is Gareth Bale or whoever. We trust that what we deliver is elite sports preparation for the games.
“I haven’t spoken to him [Mourinho], but there is a plan that we have for Gareth and that is no different to any other player.
“If they come in having played on a Saturday, they will have a second-day recovery on a Monday. If they play on Sunday, they will be off the grass on Monday, with second-day recovery on Tuesday.
“We have a medical team that is second to none and they have a template in place for every player coming into the squad.
“If they have individual plans for themselves, we will, of course, adhere to that as well.
“From our point of view, there has been no communication [with Spurs], but we have a plan to get the players fit and ready for the games in a sensible manner. It has been no different over the years and we will continue to do that.”
Bale has not played for Wales since the 1-0 win against Bulgaria in June, missing three internationals since that game, but Page believes the player is now at peak fitness after slowly working himself into physical shape at Spurs.
“We now have a fully fit Gareth Bale,” Page said. “I’ve had a conversation with him and he is raring to go. He is fighting fit.
“Since I’ve been involved with Wales over the past year, this is probably the first time he has been enjoying his football and his training. He looks fit and he feels fit.
“It’s good to have a fully-fit Gareth Bale involved in the squad.”
Aside from raising concerns about Bale’s workload with Wales, Mourinho also cited his unhappiness at the involvement of Arsenal coach Albert Stuivenberg, who has been Giggs’s assistant with Wales since 2018.
Spurs have three players in the Wales squad — Bale, Ben Davies and Joe Rodon — and Page insisted that there are concerns within the Welsh set-up over a conflict of interests involving Stuivenberg.
“We have Joe Rodon and Ben Davies too, so we have had Tottenham players involved with the squad for the past couple of years,” Page said.
“We have Jose’s three players and of course he is going to show a interest, but Albert has been involved with the Welsh set-up for a couple of years and there have never been any issues, so no problems there at all.”