Barnsley striker replaces Gareth Bale for Wales

Barnsley striker Tom Bradshaw: Called up by Wales.
Barnsley striker Tom Bradshaw: Called up by Wales.
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BARNSLEY striker Tom Bradshaw has some big boots to fill after being called up by Wales.

The 25-year-old will replace Gareth Bale, who will miss Wales’ final two World Cup qualifiers against Georgia and the Republic of Ireland.

Bale was ruled out following talks between the Football Association of Wales and his club, Real Madrid, after the results of a scan on his injured calf were released.

Bradshaw made his only senior appearance for Wales at the end of March last year, replacing Tom Lawrence for the final 17 minutes of a 1-0 friendly loss to the Ukraine in Kiev.

Bradshaw was in Chris Coleman’s provisional squad for the Euro Championships but had to withdraw due to a calf injury.

This season, Bradshaw has scored five goals in his 12 appearances for the Reds.

Bale’s fitness has been a source of concern for Wales since he suffered a calf muscle strain against Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League last week.

Real chief Zinedine Zidane reported last weekend that Bale was suffering from “muscle fatigue”, but added it was “nothing important”.

“He could have played with us (against Espanyol) but I preferred to leave him out as he had a small complaint,” said Zidane on Sunday.

“He’s fine. After so many games at the start of the season and four months of injury, he was suffering after the game in Dortmund.”

But Wales’ worst fears were confirmed when the scan ruled out Bale of the Georgia game in Tbilisi on Friday and the visit of the Republic to Cardiff three days later.

Wales are currently in second place in Group D, four points behind leaders Serbia and one point above the Republic.

Two wins are likely to guarantee them at least a place in next month’s World Cup play-offs.

Despite Bale’s absence, Bradshaw could well be kept out of the starting line-up by Liverpool teenager Ben Woodburn.

The 17-year-old made a dramatic introduction last month when he scored the winner within five minutes of coming on as a second-half substitute against Austria.

Three days later, Woodburn made another huge impact from the bench when he set up the first goal in Wales’ 2-0 victory in Moldova.