Gareth Bale back in Wales squad for World Cup 2018 qualifiers after suspension

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Staff Reporter

Gareth Bale returns to the Wales squad for the 2018 World Cup qualifying double-header against Austria and Moldova.

The Real Madrid forward missed the 1-1 draw in Serbia in June because of a one-match ban.

Joe Allen and Neil Taylor will miss the home game against Austria in Cardiff on September 2 through suspension, but the pair are available for the Moldova trip three days later.

"It's nice to have Gareth back and also Neil Taylor for the Moldova game," Wales manager Chris Coleman said.

"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 per cent where he could be? We'll see where he is when we get him.

"But in fairness to some of the guys who went to Serbia that squad was absolutely magnificent."

Wales have problems in midfield for the Austria game with Allen suspended, Emyr Huws injured and Andy King and David Edwards having had limited game-time for their clubs at the start of the season.

Joe Ledley is also without a club since leaving Crystal Palace in the summer.

Ledley featured against Serbia, but has hardly played since February.

But Coleman says Ledley will start against Austria if he is "anywhere near fit."

"I'm flabbergasted Joe is not with a club, although he's obviously had offers," Coleman said.

"We'll get him as fit as we possibly can and he'll start if he's anywhere near fit because he's been brilliant for me.

"He'll have a little bit extra to do in training, but when you've got someone like that you've got to make the most of it.

"If he's anywhere near, we won't have any qualms of putting him in."

Ethan Ampadu has been included in the 25-man squad following his summer move from Exeter to Chelsea.

Ampadu does not celebrate his 17th birthday until next month but Coleman says he has no qualms calling on him if necessary.

"In terms of his ability and level of football he is capable of being with us in the 23," Coleman said.

"He's not a player I've put in for the sake of it.

"I have no doubt he will be able to handle it if we call upon him in some capacity."

Wales are four points behind Group D front-runners Serbia and the Republic of Ireland with four games to go.

"It's like knock-out football for us at the moment," Coleman said.

"But this is also Austria's last chance as well, so this is a great game for us. I'm excited by it."

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