Modric backs Bale to banish Real worries and shine for Wales

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Luka Modric, left, expects Real Madrid team-mate Gareth Bale to be on top form in Croatia (Nick Potts/PA)

Croatia captain Luka Modric says Gareth Bale’s problems at Real Madrid will not affect him while on Euro 2020 duty for Wales.

Bale comes up against his Real team-mate and great friend Modric in Osijek on Saturday having suffered a nightmare end to the season at the Bernabeu.

The Welshman was dropped from the starting XI, and boss Zinedine Zidane even refused to bring him off the bench in the final LaLiga game when Los Blancos were losing 2-0 at home to Real Betis.

Real are reportedly keen to get Bale off the wage bill this summer and have already signed Serbia striker Luka Jovic from Eintracht Frankfurt for £52.4million, while also being close to completing a club-record £130m move for Chelsea’s Eden Hazard.

“It’s very different to play for your club or in international football,” said Modric, who revealed he had not been spoken to Bale ahead of the Group E qualifier at the Stadion Gradski vrt.

“There’s no correlation in form between those two.

“I know what playing for the Welsh national team means to Gareth, so I don’t think his lack of minutes for Real Madrid will influence his performance.

“I expect him in top shape. We have to stop him as well as we can, we have to limit the great talent he has.”

World Cup finalists Croatia started their Euro 2020 qualifying programme with a 2-1 home victory over Azerbaijan in March.

But they were stunned by Hungary three days later, losing 2-1 in Budapest, as Wales opened their campaign with a 1-0 home win over Slovakia.

“After Hungary, we have no space for other bad results,” Modric said.

“We expect a very tough match against an opponent I think, along with Croatia, is the best in the group.

“Wales is a very good, organised team. Gareth is obviously their best player but they have a lot of good players, especially going forward.”

Meanwhile, Wales manager Ryan Giggs insists Daniel James’ impending move to Manchester United has not disrupted preparations for their Euro 2020 qualifier against Croatia.

James was at United’s Carrington training ground on Thursday morning ahead of his transfer from Swansea, just hours before Wales flew to Osijek for Saturday’s meeting with the World Cup finalists.

The 21-year-old winger completed the switch – in principal – on Friday, which is understood to be in the region of £18million, including add-ons, and will be unveiled next week after Wales’ Euro 2020 qualifier in Hungary.

“We had a relaxed day on Thursday,” Giggs said when asked if James’ United medical had forced him to miss training.

“That’s how we structured the week, to get the work in early and then Thursday was just a case of going through a few things.”

Giggs was clear last week that he did not want any of his players involved in contract talks with clubs ahead of Wales’ Euro 2020 double-header with Croatia and Hungary.

But Giggs said at his pre-match conference in Osijek: “You have to be flexible because you don’t want things weighing on players’ minds.

“So if it’s sorted it’s better for us and for the player as well. He’s fine and he’s trained well. Obviously after the terrible news (the recent death of his father Kevan) we had to be flexible.

“A lot has gone on over the last 10 days, but Dan has been fine around the group.

“We’ll have to see whether he starts for us but, if it (transfer) does happen then United are getting an exciting player that I know that Man United fans will get behind and enjoy watching.”

Giggs confirmed that Ben Davies is available for both Euro 2020 qualifiers after his groin surgery was postponed.

It had been previously thought that the Tottenham full-back would only play against Croatia.