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Bale returns to Wales squad after suspension

LONDON

Real Madrid forward Gareth Bale was recalled by Wales on Friday for their forthcoming 2018 World Cup qualifying matches against Austria and Moldova.

Bale, 28, missed Wales’s last game, a 1-1 draw against Serbia in June, through suspension.

Stoke City midfielder Joe Allen and Aston Villa left-back Neil Taylor were both named in the squad, but are suspended for the game against Austria.

“It’s nice to have Gareth back and also Neil Taylor for the Moldova game,” Wales manager Chris Coleman told a press conference in Hensol, south Wales.

“Gareth is a natural athlete, but at this stage of the season some players take a bit longer to find their best.

“Is he 100 percent where he could be? We’ll see where he is when we get him.”

Wales play Austria at Cardiff City Stadium on September 2 before tackling Moldova in Chisinau three days later.

Coleman’s side, surprise semi-finalists at Euro 2016, are currently third in Group D, four points behind leaders Serbia and the Republic of Ireland with four matches remaining.

Only the top team in each European qualifying group is guaranteed to qualify for the World Cup, with the eight best runners-up across the nine groups advancing to a play-off round.

SQUAD

Goalkeepers: Wayne Hennessey (Crystal Palace/ENG), Danny Ward (Liverpool/ENG), Adam Davies (Barnsley/ENG)

Defenders: Ben Davies (Tottenham Hotspur/ENG), James Chester (Aston Villa/ENG), Neil Taylor (Aston Villa/ENG), Chris Gunter (Reading/ENG), Jazz Richards (Cardiff City), James Collins (West Ham United/ENG), Tom Lockyer (Bristol Rovers/ENG), Ashley Williams (Everton/ENG), Ethan Ampadu (Chelsea/ENG)

Midfielders: Joe Allen (Stoke City/ENG), David Edwards (Wolverhampton Wanderers/ENG), Andy King (Leicester City/ENG), Lee Evans (Wolverhampton Wanderers/ENG), Joe Ledley (unattached), Aaron Ramsey (Arsenal/ENG), Jonathan Williams (Crystal Palace/ENG)

Forwards: Gareth Bale (Real Madrid/ESP), Marley Watkins (Norwich City/ENG), Hal Robson-Kanu (West Bromwich Albion/ENG), Sam Vokes (Burnley/ENG), Tom Lawrence (Derby County/ENG), Ben Woodburn (Liverpool/ENG)

Villa is set for an international recall after being named Friday in Spain’s squad.

Four key issues that could decide petition

Villa back for Spain World Cup qualifiers