1. ITV Report

David Edwards: Ben Woodburn will 'thrive' in Gareth Bale's absence

Midfielder David Edwards expects Ben Woodburn will "thrive" in Gareth Bale's absence after calling for Wales' players to show extra responsibility in Georgia.

Ben Woodburn during a training session. Credit: David Davies/PA Wire/PA Images

Wales flew to Tbilisi on Wednesday afternoon for their penultimate 2018 World Cup qualifier against Georgia without talisman Bale.

The Real Madrid star has been ruled out of the final two games - Wales also host the Republic of Ireland in Cardiff on Monday - with a calf strain that could keep him sidelined for several weeks.

Bale's injury has come at a critical time with second-placed Wales four points behind Group D leaders Serbia and one above the Republic.

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Wales must win their final two games to guarantee themselves at least a place in next month's play-offs.

Their record without Bale does not make pretty reading - Wales have not won any of their last 10 games when the 28-year-old has been absent - but midfielder Edwards believes the leaders in the squad have to stand up.

Gareth Bale (L) and David Edwards (R). Credit: PA

I don't think any player could give more on the pitch but we maybe need to take more responsibility.

Gareth has that ability to win a game on his own, producing that bit of magic.

But we have other players who can do that as well, someone like Aaron (Ramsey), who obviously did that out in Serbia.

Then you look at what Ben Woodburn has done in the last two games off the bench, he's another match winner.

– David Edwards, Wales Midfielder

Liverpool striker Woodburn, who turns 18 later this month, scored the winner against Austria last month, less than five minutes after coming on as a second-half substitute.

Three days later, Woodburn set up the opening goal in the 2-0 win in Moldova after being introduced on the hour mark.

I've seen a lot of Ben in this campaign and he reminds me of what Gareth was like when he was younger.

And if you see what Gareth was like in the Euros, the bigger the stage, the more he thrives.

There aren't many players who can do that when the whole world is watching.

But from what I've seen, I'm pretty sure Ben is cut from the same cloth and he will relish the chance to show everyone he is the real deal.

– David Edwards, Wales Midfielder

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Arsenal midfielder Ramsey will win his 50th cap in Tbilisi and could be utilised in a more advanced position in Bale's absence.

But boss Chris Coleman is not short of attacking options with Woodburn, Sam Vokes, Hal Robson-Kanu and David Brooks all available.

Barnsley's Ryan Hedges has also been called up to cover the injured Marley Watkins.

It is going to be hard to choose which way he (Coleman) wants to go with the system and who comes into the team. But it's not like when I first played for Wales, because the gaffer has options and players who can come in, do a job and help to get those three points.

– David Edwards, Wales Midfielder