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Bale out to prove he isn't a man of straw

PUBLISHED: 15:46 09 April 2009 | UPDATED: 16:05 07 September 2010

BY PAT MOONEY GARETH Bale feels like the forgotten man at Tottenham. The full-back has had a disappointing second season at the Lane following his £5million transfer from Southampton two years ago. And the 19-year-old Welsh international admits he must improve defensiv

GARETH Bale feels like the forgotten man at Tottenham.

The full-back has had a disappointing second season at the Lane following his £5million transfer from Southampton two years ago.

And the 19-year-old Welsh international admits he must improve defensively if he is to reignite his stuttering career - and continue to have a future under Harry Redknapp at Spurs.

Bale has not started a Premier League match for more than two months - the 1-1 draw against Portsmouth on January 18 after losing the left-back position to Benoit Assou-Ekottu.

His last taste of first team action came in the Carling Cup final against Manchester United at Wembley when he came on as an extra-time substitute for Jermaine Jenas.

Four days earlier Bale started in a much-changed Tottenham team for their final Uefa Cup tie against Shakhtar Donetsk at the Lane.

"I am still young," said Bale, who has yet to finish on the winning side in the Premier League for the Lilywhites in his 21 appearances.

"I am still learning all the aspects of my game. I love to go forward and attack but I need to improve on my defensive side."

And Bale, who is already a senior figure in the Wales set-up, revealed he is having extra coaching with Tottenham assistant manager Kevin Bond on how to become a better defender.

"I have been working on it and I will keep working hard in training and hopefully it will pay off. I work with Kevin Bond on one-on-ones and positional play.

"We talk about it and look at previous games and recap and do some analysis."

Redknapp has previously suggested that Bale, who tuned down United two years ago in order to join Tottenham, must become "stronger defensively" to complement his undoubted ability going forward.

"I have to keep plugging away and show [Redknapp] that I am still worth a position," he said.

"Hopefully, next season, or when we are out of the relegation battle at the end of the season, I will get a few more games.

"All I have to do when I get my chance is to try to play well and keep on top of things and hopefully get a place back in the team."

For Wales, Bale has more freedom to attack in a wing-back role. He played the full 90 minutes in both of the World Cup defeats against Finland and Germany during the international break.

"Obviously, with Wales there is more licence for me to get forward," he said. "With my attacking game I just love to do that."

But Bale is well aware that Redknapp will be looking to strengthen the squad during the summer and knows he has to convince the Tottenham boss that he has become a better all-round defender.

pat.mooney@hamhigh.co.uk

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