Ryan Giggs has challenged his Wales youngsters to prove people wrong in the absence of Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey.

Wales are without their two star men for the first time in a competitive fixture since Ramsey made his debut in 2008 in Tuesday's Nations League tie against the Republic of Ireland in Dublin.

The omens are not good as Wales have won only three competitive fixtures without Bale since the Real Madrid forward made his debut in 2006.

"It's happened in the past and it's going to happen in the future where we have to cope without our better players," Giggs said at his pre-match press conference. "I will give players chances no matter what age they are, and it's up to them to take it.

"Stop that record, prove people wrong if that's the case and make the record a little bit better.

"It's not easy because you'll always miss someone like Gareth, but we've still got players who can make things happen."

Bale headed back to Madrid on Sunday and Real posted a picture on their official Twitter account on Monday evening of the Welshman on the training ground.

Real reported that Bale was following his own personal programme and used the indoor facilities, before taking to the pitch for ball work and other exercises. Giggs said he expects Bale to feature in Real's LaLiga game with Levante on Saturday.

"Gareth went back yesterday and I expect him to be fit for the weekend. It's nothing really, just a bit of fatigue and I didn't want to risk it," said Wales boss Giggs. 

"He just wasn't right. If it was a cup final or something then potentially, but the plan was to leave it as late as possible, and it was taking a long time to get ready.

Arsenal midfielder Ramsey played in the 4-1 friendly defeat to Spain on Thursday but returned to London over the weekend where his wife Colleen gave birth to twins.

Chelsea teenager Ethan Ampadu, who tormented the Irish defence in Wales' 4-1 win in Cardiff last month, has also been ruled out with a knee injury.

Connor Roberts, David Brooks and Harry Wilson could all start, while Manchester City midfielder Matthew Smith has also impressed off the bench in recent games.

Giggs said: "Huge congratulations to Rambo, he's had two new additions over the weekend.

"It's a great chance for players to come in and put in a good performance. We've seen likes of Connor Roberts come in, do well, and stay in the team. It gives more players an opportunity.

"But the game is not just about the young players, the experienced players have to help them through the times when you have to tough it out in 90 minutes.

"They've had experiences on a football pitch that the younger players might not have had.

"This is going to be different from Thursday, we're away from home and I'm looking forward to seeing how the young players cope because it will be a challenge.

"We are going to have to earn our victory without a shadow of a doubt.

Wales would go top of a three-team group by beating the Republic for the second time in a month.

But the Republic, who drew 0-0 at home to Denmark on Saturday, would leapfrog Wales and send Giggs' side to the bottom with a win.

"We played well in the first game against Ireland and I told the players that's the benchmark," Giggs said. "If we win the game we're top of the group and will have an excellent chance of topping it.

"It shows the positivity of the Nations League because all the teams in the group are more or less equal.

"But if we win it's in our hands to go on and top the group and that's all you can ask for."

Follow Republic of Ireland v Wales with our live blog on RTÉ Sport Online and the News Now App and listen live on 2fm's Game On from 7pm