Gareth Bale nearly signed for Wolverhampton Wanderers in 2009, says Republic of Ireland striker Kevin Doyle.

Doyle was speaking ahead of the crunch World Cup qualifier between Republic of Ireland and Wales on Friday, but revealed that he nearly lined up as Bale’s team-mate at Molineux.

At the time of the proposed transfer, Bale would have been just 20 years old but a sharp twist of fate meant the Midlands club couldn’t get their man.

Kevin Doyle spent six years at Wolves,  making 164 appearances and scoring 30 goals during his time at Molineux.

“I remember he was nearly coming to us on loan in one of the transfer windows. That shows how far he has come in the last six or seven years. But I think that someone got injured at Spurs and the deal fell through,” said Doyle, who became Wolves’ club record signing in the same year after a £6.5m move.

Doyle, now of MLS side Colorado Rapids, added: “He’s an unbelievable player — I would hate to have to mark him! It’s just that natural speed. But you watch all of Wales’ highlights and he is in the box heading them as well, stuff that you would not think about. He’s got everything, so he’s a class player.”

Roy Keane has advised that his team use legitimate force to get Bale off his game and Burnley left-back Stephen Ward echoed his assistant manager’s thoughts.

Gareth Bale was key for Wales’ qualification for the Euros in France and the Real Madrid will be looking to do it again ahead of the 2018 World Cup in Russia. 

“I think that we just have to try, as a unit, not to let him have time on the ball — get close, get tight, make it uncomfortable for him. But I’m sure there will be times in the game where he will have an effect. We just need to try to keep it to a minimum.”

Ireland go into the game sitting top of Group D, with an impressive ten points from the first four games which has opened up a four-point gap over Chris Coleman’s Euro 2016 semi-finalists.

The Irish performed heroics as well in the summer tournament and Ward believes the momentum they have gained from that has gone into their qualifying performance.

He said: “From our point of view, we have taken a lot of confidence. Especially the younger lads and even the experienced lads have grown as players and that has shown in how we have started this campaign.”

Ireland will be hoping to stop the threat of Wales’ main man and use their home fixtures to their advantage, starting on Friday at the Aviva Stadium.

Written by Kyle Dixon (@kyledixon95)

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