Last week the 26-year-old claimed Wales were more patriotic than their English counterparts and before Thursday’s Group B game in Lens he laughed when asked about this annoying them.
“It’s good that they bit,” he said. “I didn’t say they didn’t have pride or passion. In my opinion we have more. They probably will say the same. I’m happy with the comments. We’ve got a massive team spirit, the best I’ve seen. It’s just my opinion.”
Despite having a squad that includes Wayne Rooney, Harry Kane, Jamie Vardy and Joe Hart when asked which England players would get into Wales’s side Bale was clear. “None,” he said, denying mind games were being played. “For me there aren’t any – we just focus on ourselves, others like to comment on them. For us as a team and camp we don’t listen to anything, we concentrate on ourselves. Nothing is fazing us, we don’t feel any pressure, we’re just going to go out and enjoy the occasion.
Bale shrugged off Jack Wilshere’s comments that England do not really like Wales. “People can say what they want – I think in the press conference [they think] I disrespected England, it wasn’t the case,” he said. “They are entitled to their opinion, I don’t care. If they think they have the better squad, good for them. I’m not saying they don’t have pride and passion. Whatever the sport Wales seem to have a next level, I really feel it on the pitch, or watching games. I’m just giving my opinion.
“We know England are bigger nation, have more players to choose from. But we feel we have closed the gap. We know they are a good team but we know we are a good team. We are looking forward to it and preparing to win. It’s going to be a derby, a big atmosphere, we know that. We will give 100% and as long as we give everything for the shirt and the nation we can’t do any more.”
Bale is also unconcerned regarding his importance to the side. “I’m not carrying any hopes, as we showed versus Slovakia, it is all about the team. I’m fully for the team. If I have to do extra running, I’ll do it. If I don’t get a kick to make space for team-mate, I’ll do that. It’s all about the team. We’ll keep working hard.
“They have strengths, they are a very good team, we know everything about them, we play against them week in, week out [in the Premier League]. We know they have weaknesses too, we will do our homework and try to exploit them.”
Wayne Hennessey is back in contention for Thursday’s match following a back injury. Bale said: “The group’s fine. Wayne’s doing OK, he’s recovering well, it’s a minor problem he’ll recover I’m sure for the game and he’ll be a big player for us.”
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