When it was confirmed that Gareth Bale would be missing from his side’s final two World Cup qualifiers against Georgia and the Republic of Ireland, there was huge disappointment from a Welsh point of view but also considerable relief from those west of the Irish sea.
Bale is undoubtedly a world-class player, one who is head and shoulders above anyone that Ireland possesses in terms of quality – the absence of his ability to create something out of nothing is a huge coup for Ireland and it’s also damaging to Wales.
A quick look at some statistics tells its own story. Wales haven’t won a qualifying fixture without Bale since their victory over Macedonia in 2013.
However, Welsh striker, Simon Church, who is unavailable for the upcoming pivotal matches due to a hip injury, believes that they can prove people wrong and still secure qualification without their star player.
“A lot of people will write us off now, but we’re used to that,” Church told BBC Sport.
“Time and again we’ve proved people wrong, so it’s a great opportunity to do that again.
“We’ve had a lot of injuries in the past campaign where someone has had to come in and fill a role and they have done.”
Before Wales take on the Republic of Ireland at the Cardiff City Stadium on Tuesday, they face a tricky away trip to Tbilisi to take on Georgia on Friday night.
Here’s a quick look at the Group D Table with Wales just one point ahead of Ireland who are in third.