Robbie Savage: The bad thing for Ireland is that Bale is fit

The former Welsh international admits his side will be desperate for the win

Robbie Savage: The bad thing for Ireland is that Bale is fit

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Former Wales international Robbie Savage feels Gareth Bale will make the biggest difference as Ireland face the Welsh in Friday's 2018 World Cup qualifier.

The who won 39 caps for his country and over 340 in the Premier League, spoke on Off the Ball last night.

Ireland’s boss Martin O’Neill used to manage Savage at Leicester. Talking about their relationships the Welshman said: “We have a laugh together now. I was scared to death of him when he was my manager.

“But what respect he commanded. If you look at this Republic of Ireland side what he [O’Neill] does is get the best out of average players. OK they have got some very good players, but there are players in that side that you would say are average players. He gets every ounce of ability, energy and desire out of them."

Group D sees top of the table Ireland host Wales this Friday. The home side are currently four points ahead of Wales and a win for either side would be hugely significant in their attempts for World Cup qualification.

Matches that are so evenly matched usually come down to a moment of quality from the best players and Savage believes Gareth Bale is vital if his team are looking to take all three points.

Savage said: “The bad thing for Ireland is that Bale is fit. He is, you would say, the best player on the field and one of the best in the world. He could be the difference once again and he always usually is for Wales. But let’s not forget the form that Joe Allen is in, Aaron Ramsey who was magnificent in the Euros for Wales. With the Republic of Ireland injuries Wales do have a chance.”

Considering Wales are four points behind Ireland, they will be desperate to pick up points.

Savage said: “I think it is a must win game for Wales. We dropped points against Georgia which was a bad result. I’d say if we have any aspirations of getting second place we have got to try and win the game.