Bale is the best British player - Coleman

The Wales manager feels that the Tottenham winger has no equal on his native shores after his sensational performance against Scotland turned a defeat into victory
Wales manager Chris Coleman believes that Gareth Bale is the best British footballer currently playing.

The Tottenham winger inspired his country's comeback to beat Scotland 2-1 in their World Cup qualifying clash on Friday and continues to impress in the Premier League.

Asked by reporters if Bale is the best that Britain has to offer, Coleman opined: "I wouldn't swap him for anyone else. Anyone can see - when he's got the ball he's devastating.

80/1 Gareth Bale is 80/1 with Bet365 to score two or more goals in Croatia v Wales
"He's a terrific player. His work-rate is excellent, he comes away with Wales and plays with passion and incredible ability. You'd be crazy to try and swap him.

"He's scored all our goals [in qualifying for 2014] so far and I know people are talking about him. He's a show-stopper and people pay money to come and watch him play - but that performance on Friday wasn't just Baley. He got the goals but there were some terrific performances.

"We've got options with Gareth. He can be devastating when he plays out wide and cuts inside his full-back but it's always an option to play him in the centre," Coleman added ahead of Tuesday’s trip to Croatia.

"We're missing Aaron [Ramsey] at the wrong time, really," he noted of the suspended midfielder, "but it is what it is.

"Gareth knows where he can hurt the opposition. When you have good players you don’t want to pigeon-hole him.

"Look where he got the winning goal [against Scotland] from – yet he was playing on the right side for us but when he runs through the middle he can cause other teams problems."

"We've got options with Gareth. He can be devastating out wide when he cuts inside his full-back but he can play in the centre"
- Chris Coleman

Debate has surrounded Bale of late over his propensity for diving but Coleman feels that referees must protect his charge more.

"Every opposition will work on how they are going to stop him," he noted. "That's how I'd be thinking if I was the opposition.

"Gareth didn't get the protection he needed against Belgium. There is a flip side, that players like Baley can get kicked from pillar to post, so you do need strong referees.

"When you have a special player, like we have in Baley, referees have to be aware that teams will try and stop them by hook or by crook."