Real Madrid star Gareth Bale winning fitness race to play for Wales

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The Los Blancos attacker has overcome injury.

Gareth Bale is set to win his fitness battle and play in Wales’ Nations League tie against the Republic of Ireland.

Bale remains doubtful for the Cardiff friendly with Spain on Thursday after coming off in the closing stages of Real Madrid‘s La Liga defeat at Alaves last weekend.

The 29-year-old has been troubled by a groin injury in recent weeks, but he trained on Tuesday and the Wales medical staff will continue to monitor his fitness ahead of the Spain game.

Although that clash might be too soon for him, Press Association Sport understands that Bale is in line to start in Dublin next Tuesday.

If Bale does miss out against Spain, Harry Wilson could be on free-kick duty after his stunning effort at Old Trafford for Derby last month.

The on-loan Liverpool winger scored a spectacular 30-yard effort to earn praise from Anfield boss Jurgen Klopp and a rebuke from his Wales manager and Manchester United great Ryan Giggs.

“He (Klopp) messaged me after the game,” said Wilson, who copied the previous Old Trafford goal celebrations of Fernando Torres and Steven Gerrard by holding one hand aloft to show five fingers, referring to Liverpool’s five European cups – compared to United’s three.

“He just said ‘fantastic free-kick, really great football’.

“It’s great to hear from the manager whose team you want to be in in the future.

“He (Giggs) did mention a fine to me when I got into camp, but the celebration was just heat of the moment.

“I practice my free-kicks a lot and spend time with a couple of lads to get that technique.

“I think Gareth is definitely top of the pile when it comes to taking them, and rightly so.

“But if he’s not on the pitch for one reason or another, I’ll be putting my name forward.”

Wilson will also be keeping an eye on England during the international break as he shares a Derby flat with fellow loanee Mason Mount.

The Chelsea youngster earned his first England call-up for the Nations League games against Croatia and Spain despite never having played in the Premier League.

“He’s been great for us all season. He’s scoring, assisting and deserves his call-up,” Wilson said.

“Mason’s a great lad to live with, even if he’s a bit messy and the flat is a bit dirty at the minute!

“We go to the cinema, go shopping, go out for food and we try to do that with a couple of our team-mates as well.

“We’re setting up a Come Dine with Me in Derby. Every other week some people will come to our house and we’ve got to cook for them and try some new recipes.

“My speciality is spaghetti bolognese, and I have to say I’m a better chef than Mason.”

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Paul Pogba names four French players he thinks should win Ballon d'Or

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Paul PogbaΒ says he would love a Frenchman to win the Ballon d’Or, but does not believe he should be in contention.

The Manchester United midfielder was named on the 30-man shortlist for the award for the best player of the year, with the winner to be announced in Paris on December 3.

There were seven Frenchmen named on the list after helping Les Bleus win their second World Cup in Russia this summer.

Chelsea midfielder N’Golo Kante and Tottenham keeper Hugo Lloris are in contention, along with Paris St Germain’s Kylian Mbappe, Atletico Madrid’s

Antoine Griezmann and Real Madrid’s Champions League-winning duo Raphael Varane and Karim Benzema.

“Whether it’s Grizou (Griezmann), Kylian (Mbappe) or Raph’ (Varane), they deserve it much more than me,” PogbaΒ told AFP.

“I can not designate one. But I hope with all my heart that this is one of the three.

“One of the four also because there is NG (Kante). That’s all I hope for anyway, because there are many who deserve it. I do not put myself in.”

Every Ballon d’Or since 2008 has been won by either Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi and the pair are both among the favourites again this year.

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Valencia midfielder Geoffrey Kondogbia swaps France for Central African Republic

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Geoffrey Kondogbia is set to revoke his right to play for France by appearing in a competitive fixture for the Central African Republic.

The Valencia midfielder has played five times at senior level for France, but all of those appearances have come in friendlies which means he is eligible to switch to the CAR as he holds dual nationality.

Kondogbia was granted permission by FIFA to make the switch last month, but injury prevented him from appearing for Raoul Savoy’s side in their defeat against Guinea.

He has arrived to join his new international team-mates as they prepare for their African Cup of Nations 2019 qualifier against Ivory Coast on Friday.

The 25-year-old, who was born in France, helped Les Bleus win the Under-20 World Cup alongside the likes of Paul Pogba and Florian Thauvin, before making his senior debut aged 20.

He was an unused substitute for France’s World Cup 2014 qualifier against Belarus in 2013 and an appearance in that match would have prevented him from switching away from playing for France.

The Central African Republic Football Federation said in a statement in September: “Geoffrey Kondogbia can henceforth play with the Central African Republic.

“He will be able to make his grand debut with the Central African selection in October, for the third and fourth days of the CAN 2019 qualifiers in Cote d’Ivoire.”

The CAR sit third in their qualifying group, level with Ivory Coast, with three points from two games.

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