Forget Gareth Bale, West Ham's Ginger Pele will be the key man for Wales against Portugal

West Ham's James Collins

Wales' Euro 2016 semi-final against Portugal is billed as Gareth Bale vs Cristiano Ronaldo but a West Ham United star will be the most important player.

Real Madrid's Gareth Bale celebrates scoring their first goal with Cristiano RonaldoReal Madrid's Gareth Bale with Cristiano Ronaldo

Wales are one the stories of Euro 2016 so far having progressed to the semi-finals where they will face Portugal in the biggest game in their history on Wednesday night.

The Red Dragons go into the match shorn of some of their key players, though, with the likes of Arsenal star Aaron Ramsey and Tottenham Hotspur's Ben Davies both suspended after picking up bookings in the 3-1 win over Belgium.

Wales' Ben Davies during the press conferenceWales' Ben Davies

Absences open door for Hammers man

The absences have left some doubting Chris Coleman's side and their ability to make is past a Portugal side who are yet to win a match inside 90 minutes in the tournament so far.

Pundits and fans alike point to the fact the Welsh have the world's most expensive player in the shape of Real Madrid's Gareth Bale.

Somewhat predictably the game is being billed as Bale vs his Real Madrid teammate and fellow megastar Ronaldo, who both have two goals each so far.

West Ham's James CollinsThe Ginger Pele

Can the Ginger Pele shackle Ronaldo?

But Coleman's most important player could well be someone who hasn't played since April in the shape of Hammers star James Collins.

The Ginger Pele as he is affectionately known on the terraces at West Ham, was so good in his performances during Slaven Bilic's first season as boss that the club handed him a new two-year deal.

He lost his place through injury for the run-in but was still selected for Wales' Euro squad.

Picture Supplied by Action ImagesCollins in action for Wales

If anyone can, Collins can

Collins has had to wait patiently during his country's remarkable run across the Channel.

But with the suspension of Davies and Coleman's preference to play a back three Collins looks set to come in.

His task? To shackle one of the world's greatest ever players.

While Ronaldo has been somewhat out of sorts at the Euros, he can singlehandedly destroy a team on any given day.

Ask any West Ham fan and they will tell you Collins is the kind of man and player you would want in the trenches with you.

If anyone can shut out Ronaldo, it is the Ginger Pele.

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