Gareth Bale looks set to miss Wales’ Nations League clash with the Republic of Ireland in Dublin next Tuesday.
The Real Madrid star sat out a 4-1 friendly defeat at the hands of a ruthless Spain team due to what Wales manager Ryan Giggs described as “muscle fatigue.”
And Giggs has admitted he is unlikely to have him back in the mix when Wales look to dust themselves down from a Principality Stadium pummelling.
“Gareth is struggling for Tuesday,” Giggs said.
“Ethan (Ampadu) just extended his knee a little bit in the second half, and we will assess it and see how it is, and Chris Mepham got a little knock in training yesterday.
“We will take care of the lads the best we can over the next couple of days and get ready for Tuesday.
“We will make a decision (on Bale) in the next couple of days. We will make it sooner, rather than later.”
Asked if it looked at the moment that Wales would be without their headline performer, Giggs said: “Yes, it does.”
Luis Enrique’s stylish side strolled to an emphatic victory ahead of tackling Nations League opponents England in Seville in four days’ time after Paco Alcacer, with a brace, and Sergio Ramos scored inside 29 minutes, before substitute Marc Bartra added a fourth.
Sam Vokes headed a consolation a minute from time, but it was a sobering evening for Giggs’ side prior to tackling Ireland as they suffered a heaviest defeat since a 6-1 thrashing away to Serbia in 2012.
“It is disappointing,” Giggs added. “Against average teams you have to do the basics right. Against a very good team, if you don’t do the basics, you get punished, and that’s what happened.
“The build-up was magnificent. Coming into the stadium on the coach (it was Wales’ first game at the Prinicpality Stadium for seven years), you could feel the buzz and it’s something different. Unfortunately, we couldn’t perform on the pitch, which is obviously disappointing.
“We brush ourselves down, take it on the chin. The last time we were in Cardiff we won 4-1 and were magnificent. Tonight, we were disappointing.
“The good thing about football is you have always got the next game, and that can’t come quickly enough.
“We got taught a lesson in many aspects, but the main thing we were taught tonight was to do the basics right.
“You have to give them (Spain) credit. They are fantastic players, they are all playing at the top level, and they showed that tonight. It was a lesson for us, it was a lesson for a lot of the players, and one that we will learn from.
“We will be better on Tuesday.”
It was a third successive victory for Spain under Enrique – they have also scored 12 goals in that time – and he said: “The team were very involved from the first minute and had an almost perfect attitude.
“Yes, there are (selection) clues (for the England game) in terms of those who have not played tonight, but you won’t be able to guess more than four or five (of the team).
“It was an intense game tonight, and I loved watching my team.
“Their attitude lasted 90 minutes and we went into the game looking to create chances, put Wales under pressure and to prevent them from coming out, and it went well.”
Gareth Southgate believes his inexperienced England squad are up for the challenge of handling the quirks of playing at an empty stadium and exacting revenge against World Cup semi-final foes Croatia.
Three months after meeting at a packed Luzhniki, the nations will face one another at the empty Stadion HNK Rijeka as the hosts complete a UEFA ground ban for having a swastika on the pitch during a Euro 2016 qualifier against Italy.
Five-hundred hardy England supporters have reportedly still made the trip to Croatia in the hope of catching a glimpse of a Nations League clash that will see changes to the line-ups from their semi-final meeting.
Southgate is expecting an odd atmosphere and feels for England fans, especially as a number had booked travel and accommodation before they revealed in January that the match would be played behind closed doors.
“It will be a strange experience,” the England manager said on the eve of the Group A4 meeting. “I guess we effectively do that every day of our lives – we play football in front of a handful of people watching, so it’s not totally unique.
“But for a match situation, in an international, very different.
“I am sure Croatia feel the same. For them, not to have the encouragement of what is an incredibly passionate support will be very different for them.
“So it’s a shame especially for our travelling fans, who were brilliant for us all summer and so many of whom haven’t missed an England game for years.
“That’s unfortunate for them in particular.”
It is understood that players were sent footage of last year’s La Liga clash between Barcelona and Las Palmas at a deserted Nou Camp to prepare them for the mood of Friday’s encounter.
Southgate smiled when asked if he had warned his players about using colourful language – “we’ve spent two years encouraging them to speak!” – and trusts his young players to step up to the mark against the World Cup runners-up.
James Maddison, Mason Mount and Jadon Sancho – the first player born this millennium to get a call-up – are with the senior side for the first time, while Ben Chilwell could make his first start after fellow left-backs Danny Rose and Luke Shaw withdrew.
James Tarkowski and Alex McCarthy have also left with complaints of their own, compounding existing injury issues that meant Southgate laughed off Croatia’s issues, despite their 6-0 loss to Spain last time out.
“Their team looks pretty strong to me,” the England boss told BBC Radio 5 Live, having heard that opposite number Zlatko Dalic named his starting line-up in his own press conference.
“We’ve also had effective retirements and our fair share of injuries this week.
“I am looking at their midfield – Modric, Rakitic, Kovacic, with Rebic and Perisic. So, I think they’re OK!
“So, it’s a really good test for us. We’ve obviously got a different team from the team that played in the semi-final and it’s a good challenge for us.
“That game after 90 minutes was 1-1, so let’s see what we can do tomorrow.
“These big matches against top teams we’re learning a huge amount from.”
And while Southgate’s squad cannot match the hosts’ experience, the England manager scoffed at the suggestion his side would be experimental in Rijeka.
“No, we’re here to try and get a result,” he added. “The team we play will be a team we believe in, whoever is ready to start.
“There’s nobody in the squad that’s here that we we’re not thinking of putting into the team.
“It’s not experimentation, it’s players we believe in.
“Players that, OK, in a lot of cases are relatively inexperienced at the highest level, but players we’ve enjoyed working with, have shown in training this week that they can handle this level and we’ll pick a team that we think is the best one to win the game.”
Manchester City goalkeeper Ederson has been given the nod over Liverpool rival Alisson for Brazil’s friendly on Friday against Saudi Arabia.
Ederson, 25, admitted in a press conference earlier this week that Brazil team-mate Alisson was ahead of him in the national team pecking order.
But the City number one, who has made just one senior international appearance, has been told by Brazil boss Tite that he will start in Riyadh.
“(On Monday), just after training, he (Tite) talked to me and Alisson,” Ederson told a press conference during their training camp at Tottenham’s Enfield base.
“He said I’m going to play the first game and Alisson the second. I was very happy and I feel prepared.”
Ederson, who joined City from Benfica for £35million in July 2017, played second fiddle at Russia 2018 to Alisson, who started every match.
Alisson is in his first season at Liverpool after his £67m summer move from Roma and the two goalkeepers went head-to-head for their respective clubs in last Sunday’s goalless Premier League draw at Anfield.
Brazil have beaten the USA 2-0 and El Salvador 5-0 since losing to Belgium in the last eight of the World Cup in Kazan.
Despite their quarter-final exit, Barcelona midfielder Philippe Coutinho said Tite’s squad had learned a lot from Russia 2018 and are looking to regain momentum before hosting next summer’s 2019 Copa America.
“(The World Cup) is a tournament that demands a lot,” Coutinho said. “All the pressure it puts on you requires a lot psychologically.
“But sure enough, the players leave more experienced. I feel a bit more experienced after having participated in a World Cup and now we have started a new cycle.
“I’m very happy to be here one more time. Thinking ahead, we have important competitions. The Copa America is next and until then we have to form a strong base.”
Hannover midfielder Walace has been recalled to the squad for Friday’s game and next Tuesday’s friendly against Argentina in Jeddah, while Barcelona forward Malcom, Bordeaux defender Pablo and Gremio goalkeeper Phelipe have all received their first senior call-ups.
Saudi Arabia, preparing for the 2019 Asian Cup which starts in the United Arab Emirates in January, bowed out at the group stage at Russia 2018.
Juan Antonio Pizzi’s side lost to the hosts and Uruguay before beating Egypt in their final match.