Ryan Giggs has explained his decision to withdraw the Wales captain Gareth Bale at half-time during a 1-0 Nations League win over Finland.
Bale returned to competitive football on Thursday night, captaining Wales in Finland.
However, the Real Madrid superstar only had 45 minutes to showcase his talents before manager Ryan Giggs opted to replace him with Harry Wilson at the break.
The 31-year-old has barely featured for Zinedine Zidane’s side since the resumption of football in Spain.
Indeed, he registered just two La Liga appearances for newly-crowned Spanish champions post restart.
A lack of regular first-team action has left its mark on Bale’s form. The former Tottenham winger struggled to find his footing in Helsinki.
After underperforming in the first half of play, Bale was left in the dressing room at the half-time.
But, Ryan Giggs insists his decision to exclude his captain from Wales’ efforts to beat Finland was premeditated.
“It was planned before – he’s had no football at all,” said Giggs, as relayed by BBC.
“It was a real juggling act picking the team, and Gareth has had the least amount of football out of everyone.
“It was always the plan, 45 minutes, and if he felt good, an hour.
“But I thought it was best with potentially Sunday in mind to bring him off after 45 minutes and give Harry [Wilson], who also hasn’t had much football, some minutes as well.”
Kieffer Moore’s 80th-minute tap-in helped Wales walk away from Finland with all three points.
Giggs’ men will face Bulgaria on home turf in the second round of Group B4 fixtures this weekend.