Wales are confident Jess Fishlock will be fit for World Cup play-off action after missing the final qualifying double header earlier this month.
Fishlock, Wales’ top footballer with 134 appearances, has been called up in a 26-man squad for the first of three potential play-off games against Bosnia and Herzegovina in Cardiff on October 6.
The 35-year-old midfielder has played for her American club OL Reign for just over half an hour since missing Wales’ recent group games against Greece and Slovenia through injury.
Wales manager Gemma Grainger said: “From the moment she left we have been in touch with the club to make sure Jess is put at the center of everything.
“For these two weeks, like last camp, we want to take care of her to make sure she is in the middle of all our decisions.
“She has had a fantastic time at her club since securing a play-off spot.
“Jess has a game this weekend and then she’ll be jumping on that flight and we’re looking forward to seeing her.”
Fishlock’s creativity was missed as Wales drew 0-0 with Slovenia in Cardiff to secure a place in the World Cup play-offs.
But Grainger insisted it was the right decision to skip Fishlock in such a big event, saying: “It’s important for us as a team to make the right decisions and we won’t put our players at risk.
“The most important thing was what was right for Jess, for Wales and for the club itself.
“Given the stage she is at in her career, we have to look after her because our top priority is to play as long as she can.”
Veteran Aston Villa striker Natasha Harding is unavailable due to personal reasons and will be replaced in the squad by Bristol City’s Chloe Bull.
The 103-cap Harding has a senior leadership role within the group, but Grainger is confident the void left by her absence can be filled.
She said: “We have a lot of players with leadership qualities on and off the pitch.
“Tash is one of them, but during this campaign we’ve had different players at different times.
“It gives us great confidence in our preparations as we know the strength of the team. We are in a really good position.”
Wales are favorites to advance to the second round of the play-offs on October 11 in Switzerland.
The top two ranked play-off final winners secure spots at the 2023 World Cup, while the other winning team advances to intercontinental play-offs.
Wales are likely to be in the intercontinental play-offs in February should they beat Bosnia and Herzegovina and Switzerland.
Over 9,000 tickets have already been sold for the clash between Bosnia and Herzegovina at the Cardiff City Stadium.
It has put Wales on track to break their attendance record for a women’s home game, eclipsing the 12,741 spectators who watched the draw in Slovenia on September 6.
https://www.independent.co.uk/sport/football/slovenia-wales-greece-bosnia-and-herzegovina-cardiff-b2176838.html Wales are confident Jess Fishlock will be fit for the World Cup play-offs