Gareth Bale: England took the bait

Gareth Bale says that England “bit” when he said Wales had more passion and pride than England ahead of their Euro 2016 Group B showdown tomorrow.

Bale also said before Wales’ opening Group B victory over Slovakia that England “big themselves up before they’ve done anything”, and Three Lions boss Roy Hodgson responded by describing those remarks as “disrespectful”.

“It’s good that they bit,” Bale said. “People can say what they want.

“Someone said I disrespected England, which wasn’t the case.

“I never said that they didn’t have passion and pride, I just feel that we have more.

“Whether it’s football or rugby or whatever sport it is, in Wales we seem to have that next level.

“We really feel it on the pitch, watching the games. I’m just giving my opinion.

“I’m happy with my comments. I feel we’ve got a massive team spirit, one of the best I’ve seen.”

Meanwhile Adam Lallana is confident England will not be intimidated or overawed by Bale, despite rating the player he grew up with among the world’s best.

The two graduates of Southampton’s academy will lock horns at Euro 2016 in Lens.

Lallana does not necessarily think a man-marking job is the right way to handle a player he considers among the top five in the world and rejected the notion his presence is intimidating.

“That’s not for me to decide, the tactics,” he said. “It depends how you play.

“You don’t want to leave your team too vulnerable on the counter-attack with players like Gareth Bale playing. The strengths and qualities that he has.

“But it’s not a one-man show. They’ve got plenty of other good players.”

Elsewhere Joe Ledley has revealed how early morning trips to an oxygen chamber saved his Euro 2016 dream.

Ledley suffered a fractured leg playing for Crystal Palace on May 7 and admitted he shed a tear when he felt his hopes of playing in France were over.

But Ledley made a remarkable recovery to play for Wales just five weeks later, coming off the bench in the 2-1 victory over Slovakia and starting the move which led to Hal Robson-Kanu’s winner.

“Everything I had to do, supplements, whatever I could do to make my body better I’ve done,” said Ledley.

“Obviously positive thinking helped and I used an oxygen chamber.

“I left my house at 6am to be there for 7am for an hour and 45 minutes, for two weeks.

“Then it was on to the training ground to start the work, then back home, recover and use machines, it was non-stop.

“I used an Exogen machine, which create the bones cells quicker, at night just for 20 minutes.

“By the time I got through that door it was time for bed.”

“I wanted to be part of the history of making that squad after making the first tournament for 50-odd years.

“It was hard to get my head around it, but I tried everything I could to get into that team and it has paid off.”

Ledley is now in contention to start against England in Lens tomorrow but admits that 90 minutes may be beyond him at this stage of his recovery.

“I wrote off the first game against Slovakia as I didn’t think I was going to make that,” Ledley said.

“But I managed to get 20 minutes and it was like playing football in school again.

“To start passing the ball and playing with the team again, it was one of the best feelings ever — so hopefully I will be in the starting line-up against England.”

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