Wales manager Rob Page has a full squad to choose from for Friday’s World Cup meeting with Iran at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium after Joe Allen, who started training with the main squad on Wednesday, was passed fit.
The Swansea City midfielder has been out since mid-September with a hamstring injury, but his return to fitness is a boost for Wales as they go into a pivotal game after Monday’s 1-1 draw with the USA.
“Joe passed his fitness test so that’s good news. He’s fit and raring to go,” said Page, who will hand Kieffer Moore a starting spot after the striker came off the bench to spark Wales’ revival against the Americans .
“We were all worried about him because of the extent of the injury.
“He kept breaking down. We had to get goals along the way and they’ve gotten every goal. Last week they pushed him to 100 percent. It was a game.
“If he had broken down, he would have been completely out of the tournament.”
Captain Gareth Bale will also play in Doha, despite suggestions the striker could be rested for the crucial Group B clash.
Asked in his pre-match press conference about the possibility of Bale not playing against Iran, Page replied: “Good luck not picking him!”
Bale himself wants to make becoming the most capped men’s player in Welsh football history “even more special” by leading the team to World Cup victory over Iran.
The 33-year-old will take over from Chris Gunter, who will be among the substitutes for Friday’s meeting, and win his 110th cap.
Bale, who made his Wales debut in 2006 and is the country’s record goalscorer with 41 goals, said: “I haven’t really focused on the cap thing to be honest, just tried to focus on the game.
“On a personal level it’s a fantastic achievement, it’s an honor to represent my country so many times.
I haven’t really focused on the cap thing to be honest, just tried to focus on the game. On a personal level it’s a fantastic 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 that will make it even more special.”
Bale played the entire match against the USA which, like so many in this tournament, went well over 100 minutes due to stoppages and substitutions.
He said in the month leading up to the World Cup that he had been dealing with “some little issues” and that he had only played 30 minutes of soccer before the USA opener.
Page insists Bale is ready for Wales’ second group game, although the player himself admits such a high-energy game to open with was not ideal due to the quick turnaround in the fixture.
Bale said: “I feel OK, obviously it took a few days to feel my legs again.
“But we are professionals, we try to recover and do the best we can. Playing 104 minutes, or whatever it was, is not ideal when you have a game four days later.
“Everyone is doing everything they can to get to the next game. I haven’t played much before I came here, but I’ve dealt with it before and it won’t be a problem.”
Wales are confident of handling the early afternoon heat in Doha, with the temperature expected to be around 29 degrees Celsius when the match kicks off at 1pm local time.
Training has been adjusted in recent days, with Wales starting earlier to acclimatise to the warm conditions.
Bale said: “It’s hot, it’s not crazy hot. Training is different to a match as the intensity is different.
“We have a plan as a team for nutrition and hydration. As long as we can execute that, it will put us in a better position to handle the heat and humidity.”
Current last 16 fixtures (Last updated: Wednesday 23 November based on current group tables)
Saturday 3 December
49 – The Netherlands (Winners of Group A) vs Wales (runners-up of group B) – Kick-off at 3 p.m
50 – Saudi Arabia (Winners of Group C) vs Tunisia (runners-up of group D) – Kick-off at 19.00
Sunday 4 December
52 – France (Winners of Group D) vs Poland (runners-up of group C) – Kick-off at 3 p.m
51 – England (Winners of Group B) vs Ecuador (runners-up of group A) – Kick-off at 19.00
Monday 5 December
53 – Spain (Winners of Group E) vs Croatia (runners-up of group F) – Kick-off at 3 p.m
54 – Brazil (Winners of Group G) vs South Korea (runners-up of group H) – Kick-off at 19.00
Tuesday 6 December
55 – Belgium (Winners of Group F) vs Japan (runners-up of group E) – Kick-off at 3 p.m
56 – Portugal (Winners of Group H) vs Switzerland (runners-up of group G) – Kick-off at 19.00
Provisional quarter-final match (Last updated: Wednesday 23 November using the current group table)
Friday 9 December
58 – Spain or Croatia vs Brazil or South Korea – Kick-off at 15.00
57 – The Netherlands or Wales vs Saudi Arabia or Tunisia – Kick-off at 19.00
Saturday 10 December
60 – Belgium or Japan vs Portugal or Switzerland – Kick-off at 15.00
59 – England or Ecuador vs France or Poland – Kick-off at 19.00
What is England and Wales’ potential path to the final? *
If England/Wales win Group B…
Sunday 4 December – 16 last: England/Wales vs Ecuador (Al Bayt Stadium, Al Khor; kick-off 19:00)
Saturday 10 December – Quarter-finals: England/Wales vs France (Al Bayt Stadium, Al Khor; kick-off 19:00)
Wednesday 14 December – Semi-final: England/Wales vs Belgium (Al Bayt Stadium, Al Khor; kick-off 19:00)
Sunday 18 December – Final: England/Wales vs Netherlands (Lusail Iconic Stadium, Lusail; kick-off 3pm)
If England/Wales finish second in Group B…
Saturday 3 December – last 16: Netherlands vs England/Wales (Khalifa International Stadium, Al Rayyan; kick-off 3pm)
Friday 9 December – quarter finals: England/Wales vs Argentina (Lusail Iconic Stadium, Lusail; 7pm)
Tuesday 13 December – Semi-final: England/Wales vs Brazil (Lusail Iconic Stadium, Lusail; kick-off 19:00)
Sunday 18 December – Final: England/Wales v France (Lusail Iconic Stadium, Lusail; kick-off 3pm)
* Based on the highest FIFA world ranking that finishes on top of respective groups and wins knock-out matches