GARETH BALE is a doubt for Wales’ Nations League clash in Belgium next week.
The Dragons captain, 33, will turn out for MLS side LAFC against Houston Dynamo in the early hours of Monday morning.
Then Bale is to take a 10½-hour flight to London from Los Angeles on Tuesday, just two days before the Brussels tussle.
But with time zones, jet lag and fatigue all factors, Wales boss Robert Page will not take any risks with him ahead of the World Cup.
Page said: “We know he’ll be affected. There will be a lot of planning as regards to if he is going to be ready for the game against Belgium. If not, we might have to leave it for the Poland game.
“We want him in top condition. We are not going to jeopardise him.”
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Wales host Poland three days later on September 25 but could already be confined to last place in League A Group 4 if they lose to Belgium and Poland get at least a point against the Netherlands.
And Page will need all the firepower he can get as Wales have picked up just one win in their last six games – the crucial World Cup play-off qualifier against Ukraine.
Bale has been out of sorts since his move to MLS too, scoring just two goals in 11 games in all competitions.
In fact, LAFC have performed better when the Welshman has not been on the pitch.
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MLS reporter Matthew Doyle revealed LAFC have a goal difference of -7 with the five-time Champions League winner on the pitch in the 375 minutes he has played.
But when Bale is either subbed off or absent, LAFC are plus 33 in the goals department in 2,800 minutes.
However, Bale has sold the most shirts, edging out fellow former Premier League stars Carlos Vela and Chicharito.
And luckily for LAFC, Bale's poor form hasn't loosened their firm grip on top spot in the Western Conference.
This is the first time Bale will make the 5,500-mile trip from California to Cardiff for international duty since his summer switch Stateside.
But Page trusts 106-cap Bale to deliver because of his classy double against Austria and free-kick winner over Ukraine in March and June which took Wales to November's World Cup came at a time when he had limited action in Spain.
Page added: "Of course, in an ideal world we want him to play more minutes, but I'm not overly concerned. He has proven it time and time again for us. If he hadn't then I'd be worried.
"As long as he keeps putting free-kicks in the top corner then there is no problem. He turned up with the right frame of mind against Austria and Ukraine and scored the goals he did. You don't do that unless you have mental toughness.
"But if he plays 10 minutes it is more than what he was playing before he scored those important goals for us. So everything he plays is a bonus.
"He looks after himself, he's the ultimate professional in every camp. Whatever minutes he plays I know when he comes on camp he will be ready to play for us."
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