•The 31-year-old scored his first goal since returning to the Premier League with the winner in this month’s 2-1 victory over Brighton & Hove Albion.
•“We’ve now got a player on our hands that has fallen back in love with the game and enjoying his football," —Page
Wales’ assistant manager Robert Page said Gareth Bale is back in love with soccer, having rejoined Tottenham Hotspur following a tough period at Real Madrid, and that could help the forward shine for the national team.
Bale left Spurs to join Real seven years ago but returned to the north London club on a season-long loan after falling out with the Spanish club’s manager, Zinedine Zidane, and finding himself marginalised toward the end of last season.
The 31-year-old scored his first goal since returning to the Premier League with the winner in this month’s 2-1 victory over Brighton & Hove Albion.
“He looks to me like he’s enjoying his football. He loves coming away with Wales. As long as I’ve been involved he’s never missed a camp, other than the recent one (in October) through injury,” the BBC quoted Page as saying on Saturday.
“Now being at a place like Tottenham, he has a manager (Jose Mourinho) who wants him there, wants him to play week in, week out— or they are building him up to that where he plays 90 minutes consistently.
“We’ve now got a player on our hands that has fallen back in love with the game and enjoying his football. Hopefully we’ll reap the rewards of that as well.”
“The older you get, you lose a bit of sharpness. I experienced that myself as a player. I’ve not seen any evidence of that in the last two days of training,” Page added. “Some of the things I saw on Friday was the other way. He’s looking just as sharp, bright and powerful.”
Elsewhere, six South Korea players and a member of the team’s staff tested positive for the new coronavirus before their 3-2 defeat by Mexico in an international soccer friendly on Saturday, casting doubts over their clash with Qatar tomorrow.
Yonhap news agency reported that South Korea were initially informed of four players and one staff member testing positive around 20 hours before they began their first international match of the year in Wiener Neustadt, Austria.
A retest of players who tested negative returned two more positives and the match was played only after discussions with the Mexican Football Federation and the Austrian Football Association.
The Korea Football Association said in a statement that a game could go ahead as long as a team has 13 healthy players with at least one goalkeeper, Yonhap reported, adding South Korea had 19 players including two goalkeepers available. The initial four players who tested positive were Kwon Chang-hoon, Hwang In-beom, Lee Dong-jun and Jo Hyeon-woo, with Kim Moon-hwan and Na Sang-ho joining them on the list later. All the players and the member of staff will have to spend 10 days in quarantine in Austria.
Hwang Ui-jo and Kwon Kyung-won scored on either side of the break for South Korea while Mexico netted three times in three minutes in the second half, through Raul Jimenez, Uriel Antuna and Carlos Salcedo, to seal the victory.