Coleman: Bale can be record Wales scorer

Gareth Bale can overtake Ian Rush’s Welsh scoring record, according to Wales boss, Chris Coleman.

Bale currently stands on 14 goals in 45 appearances for the Dragons.

It’s now eight years since a young, spindly 16-year-old Bale became the youngest ever Welshman to appear for his country, and a few months later become the youngest ever goal scorer.

One more goal for the world’s most expensive player and he will leapfrog John Hartson into 10th position in the scoring charts. The ranking of top sharp-shooting Welshman is littered with players who played parts of their careers outside of English football: Hartson, Craig Bellamy, Robert Earnshaw, John Charles, Dean Saunders, Mark Hughes. And the man Bale is ultimately chasing also played abroad. Ex-Juventus and Liverpool legend Rush notched up 28 goals in 73 appearances.

Bale still has time on his side. In his press conference covered by BBC Sport, Coleman commented, “He’s young enough. Going on what he’s already done, he’s going to play enough games to surpass that”.

Wales have suffered 10 injury withdrawals from the likes of Aaron Ramsey and Joe Allen, but the man who was this week named the 2014 FAW Player of the Year can win a game on his own.

“He can score a goal out of nothing or create a goal out of nothing. If you’ve got someone with that ability, it’s not just what he gives to your own players, it’s what he does to the opposition.”

Wales face Bosnia-Herzegovina in their first home Group B tie, and Coleman is hoping the £85m man can provide inspiration and intimidation is equal measure. “When the opposition walk on to the pitch knowing they’re up against someone like that, psychologically it’s fantastic. It’s a huge boost for us.”

It’s not just the goal scoring charts that the players have their eyes on. The Real Madrid star is nearing a half-century of caps, but others in the current squad are already at the landmark. “Chris Gunter’s got over 50 caps. Nobody talks about Chris. We all talk about Baley and Rambo [Aaron Ramsey],” said Coleman. “I say it constantly to our younger players: ‘Go and win 100 caps.’ We’ve got a lot of players who are young enough, dedicated enough and have the mentality to surpass that.”

But it’s goals that win matches, and Bale has 11 in his last 16 international appearances. His scoring feats are one of the reasons behind Wales’ rapid rise up the FIFA rankings. Three years ago, Wales languishes in their lowest ever position at 117. Now, they occupy 29th, just two shy of their highest ever ranking.

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