Las Palmas
Real Sociedad
7:45 PM UTC
Game Details
VfL Wolfsburg
Werder Bremen
7:30 PM UTC
Game Details
Burton Albion
Blackburn Rovers
7:45 PM UTC
Game Details
Wolverhampton Wanderers
Birmingham City
7:45 PM UTC
Game Details
3:00 AM UTC Feb 25, 2017
Game Details
Melbourne City FC
Sydney FC
Game Details
Brisbane Roar
Wellington Phoenix FC
6:35 AM UTC Feb 25, 2017
Game Details

Europa League round of 16 draw

Europa League

Transfer Rater: Bellerin to Barcelona


West Ham stadium model by Noble's son

Toe Poke

Wolverine gets his claws on UCL trophy

Toe Poke

Ox: Arsenal fans need to get behind us

By ESPN Staff

Speed: Bale to benefit from rest

Wales manager Gary Speed is looking forward to seeing a fully fit and refreshed Gareth Bale next season after losing the services of the Tottenham winger for the national side again.

Bale would have been in the squad for the Carling Nations Cup matches against Scotland and Northern Ireland in Dublin at the end of the month but has been sidelined by an ankle ligament injury sustained against Blackpool at the weekend.

The 21-year-old also missed Wales' Euro 2012 qualifier at home to England in March after pulling out with a hamstring injury - which sparked a club versus country row.

Bale has had a stand-out season for Tottenham and Speed believes the enforced rest will do the player good.

"I spoke to Gareth yesterday. He was very positive about it,'' the Wales boss said. "He assured me that the surgeon told him it was the best possible result, the best-case scenario in terms of the ligaments he has damaged. So it will be four to six weeks off and then he can continue training.

"It is a good thing as he has had a long, tough season so that four to six weeks will do him good I would imagine. I don't think he's had surgery - I don't think he needs it. But he is going to stay at Spurs for his rehabilitation.''

Speed has a number of injuries to assess ahead of the two matches in three days, as well as working out who is going to be available as a number of his players are involved in end-of-season play-offs with their clubs.

He will be able to call on his captain, Arsenal midfielder Aaron Ramsey, however. The 20-year-old captained his national side for the first time in March's encounter against England and, although the decision drew some criticism from Ramsey's club manager Arsene Wenger, Speed insists he chose him for all the right reasons.

"When Arsene Wenger says something like that as a young manager you listen and take it on board,'' he added. "If Arsene says it I respect him totally but we didn't just make Aaron captain for the England game - we made him captain for the future.

"I know Cesc Fabregas was a captain at a very early age at Arsenal and he probably made mistakes. Aaron will learn a lot as he has goes on. I've not put any extra pressure on him. I just want him to go out and play.

"He is going to have quiet games and great games but the reason behind it was the future of the team and it was definitely the right decision. When we are in a position to compete in two years' time then I think Aaron will benefit from the experience he is getting now.''

Speed also welcomes back West Ham midfielder Jack Collison - whom he hopes will be one of his major future stars - into the squad after more than 14 months out.

The 22-year-old has only just made his comeback after a long lay-off with a knee injury, playing 26 minutes in the Hammers' 1-1 draw with Blackburn at the weekend.

Prior to that Collison had been sidelined since March 3 2010, having been injured in Wales' friendly defeat to Sweden at the Liberty Stadium in Swansea. Speed has promised to take it steady with the player but is relishing the prospect of having him back.

"I am delighted for Jack. He is one I have talked to over the last six or seven months about his progress and it was great he came on last week for West Ham,'' he added. "He has been out for a long time and his injury is one we have to manage and we'll certainly be doing that, liaising with West Ham to see what the best is for Jack.

"He could be very important. He is an excellent player and before his injury he was playing very well for West Ham. He has a bright future in front of him and hopefully he will have a good one for Wales.

"I think if you look at some of the players we have in our squad for the future he fits right in there."


Use a Facebook account to add a comment, subject to Facebook's Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your Facebook name, photo & other personal information you make public on Facebook will appear with your comment, and may be used on ESPN's media platforms. Learn more.