The Football Association of Wales has confirmed that Gareth Bale has pulled out of Saturday's Euro 2012 qualifier against England with a hamstring injury. Sky Sports News reported on Thursday morning that the 21-year-old had missed training sessions after suffering the setback in the wake of last weekend's match for Tottenham against West Ham.
Wales' fears have now been confirmed after a scan to mean that winger Bale is returning to Spurs for further assessment and will therefore miss the Group G game in Cardiff. A statement on the FAW's official website read: "Due to a hamstring problem, Gareth Bale has had to withdraw from the Wales squad to face England on Saturday.
"He felt tight last week during training with his club. After playing 90 minutes on Saturday he felt some muscle tightness. Initially, this was expected to be muscle soreness after playing his first game."
Bale's withdrawal comes as a major setback to Wales manager Gary Speed, who has inherited a team who have lost their first three matches in the current European qualifying campaign. Even if the former Sheffield United boss can guide Wales to what would be a huge shock against Fabio Capello's England at the Millennium Stadium, qualification would still appear unlikely.
But Bale's injury does not come as a great surprise, because it is not the first time his blossoming career has been hampered by injuries and he has only recently returned to the Tottenham team from a back problem. The former Southampton player's youth career was heavily disrupted by a number of frustrating muscular problems related to the speed of his growth in his teenage years.
Bale was almost released by Southampton due to his repeated injuries and his playing days were also almost ended by a fractured bone in one of his feet shortly after he joined Tottenham.