Bale ruled out of Athletic trip despite promising Copa return
63 days after his previous game for Real, Bale returned from injury in Tuesday's Copa del Rey match-up with Fuenlabrada, in what was a promising comeback: in a 28-minute substitute appearance, he supplied the assist for one goal and was involved in another as he helped Los Blancos avoid a cup upset against the third-tier side.
However, Bale has been ruled out of Saturday's trip to Bilbao after coming away from the Copa clash with discomfort in his troublesome calf - and, when asked about this latest setback, Zidane admitted he could not say when the forward will return.
Zidane on Bale during his pre-Athletic Club press conference:
Is Bale's problem partly psychological?
I don't think so. He felt a little niggle; it's not serious. But after being out for so long, it's difficult for him. I'd expect it just to be a physical issue, a little leftover niggle. I think he needs to train with the team, get back into the team dynamic. He just felt a niggle and hopefully it's nothing much, and that he's back with us quickly.
He could be seen stretching against Fuenlabrada. At what point did he start to notice the pain?
He doesn't have anything serious; I can't say exactly when. It's just a niggle in his soleus. We don't want to risk him, that's all. As a very powerful player, he has to be physically just right. It's his soleus, like it has been many times. The physios want to fix his problem. My mindset is positive: I don't think negatively. We want to get across to him that he's going through a bad time, but that he'll come out of it. Our aim is to encourage him because, as he's shown previously, he's an important player for us.
When will Bale be back?
It depends on him. I can't give a date for his return, because, as you say, sometimes he has taken longer [to recover]. I hope that it's next week.