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Gareth Bale: Wales record is ‘amazing’ but beating Iran is more important

Gareth Bale wants to make becoming the all-time All-Captain in Welsh football history “even more special” by leading Wales to a World Cup victory over Iran.

Bale will overtake Chris Gunter, who will be among the substitutes on Friday, to win his 110th cap at Doha’s Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium.

Wales have been bolstered by the return of midfielder Joe Allen, who has been out since mid-September with a hamstring injury, as they enter must-win territory following Monday’s 1-1 draw with the United States.

Bale, who made his Wales debut in 2006 and is his country’s all-time leading scorer with 41 goals, said: “To be honest I wasn’t really focusing on the cap thing, just trying to focus on the game.

“On a personal level it’s an amazing achievement, it’s an honor to represent my country so many times. But it’s more important that we try to get the win. Hopefully we can and it will make it even more special.”

Bale played the entire game against USA which, like so many in this tournament, lasted well over 100 minutes due to stoppages and substitutions.

The 33-year-old said in the month leading up to the World Cup he had been dealing with “a few small issues” and played just 30 minutes of football before the opener in the United States.

But Wales manager Robert Page asked about the possibility of Bale resting against Iran at his own pre-match press conference, saying: “Good luck not picking him.”

Page insisted Bale was ready for Wales’ second group game, although the player himself admitted that such a grueling game at the start wasn’t ideal due to the quick turnarounds in games.

Bale said: “I’m fine, it obviously took a few days before I felt my legs again. But we are professionals, we try to recover and do our best. Playing 104 minutes or whatever is not ideal when you have a game four days later.

“Everyone is doing everything they can to recover for the next game. I didn’t play much before I came here, but I’ve dealt with it before and it won’t be a problem.”

Wales are confident of coping with the early afternoon heat in Doha, with the temperature expected to hover around 29 degrees Celsius when the game begins at 1pm local time.

Training has been tweaked in recent days, with Wales starting earlier to adjust to the hot conditions.

Bale said: “It’s warm, it’s not crazy warm. Training is different from a game because the intensity is different. We have a diet and hydration plan as a team. As long as we can implement that, we will be better able to deal with heat and humidity.”

Page has a full squad to choose from after Allen, who started training with the main group on Wednesday, got fit.

“Joe passed his fitness test, so that’s good news. He’s fit and ready to go,” said Page, who will give Kieffer Moore a place in the starting XI after the striker came on to ignite Wales’ revival against the USA.

“We were all worried about him because of the extent of the injury.

“He kept breaking down. We had to hit targets along the way and they hit every target. Last week they pushed him 100 percent. It was a gamble. If he had collapsed, he would have been eliminated from the tournament completely.”

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