Real Madrid’s Gareth Bale (L) speaks to Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane. Photo: Reuters Zinedine Zidane said Tuesday he is unfazed by Wales calling up Gareth Bale but insists the Real Madrid forward is still unfit to play.
Zidane also reiterated his desire for Bale to stay at Madrid for the whole season, describing suggestions he wants the 30-year-old to be sold in January as “nonsense”.
Bale picked up a calf injury during the last international break in October and has not played any of Madrid´s four matches since. He will also miss their game against Galatasaray in the Champions League on Wednesday.
But Wales included Bale in their squad for their two crunch Euro 2020 qualifiers against Azerbaijan and Hungary on November 16 and 19 respectively, as they face a fight to qualify from Group E.
“It doesn´t bother me,” said Zidane in a press conference. “The first one to suffer is the player, he wants to be involved and if he is not ready to play for Wales, he won´t play.”
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Bale is yet to return to full training and he is not expected to recover in time to play against Eibar in La Liga on Saturday, Madrid´s last game before the international break.
There have been suggestions in the Spanish press that Bale is more eager to play for his country than for his club, with Marca carrying the headline on Tuesday: “For Wales, it´s a yes”.
“Right now he is not ready,” Zidane said. “He is not ready to train normally. His country has the right to call him up and what the player wants is to be available.
“But we will see how he is this week and what will happen with Wales and whether he is ready or not. For now, the point is that he is not ready.”
Zidane said last summer it would be “best for everyone” if Bale left Madrid but a move to Chinese club Jiangu Suning fell through at the last minute.
Instead, he enjoyed an encouraging start to the season and Zidane has been noticeably more positive in recent weeks about Bale´s future.
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“People say I want him to leave in January, it´s nonsense,” Zidane said.
“People can´t say I´ve said what I haven´t said. I want him to stay here until the end of the season. He´s doing well and I am counting on him.”
Madrid play Galatasaray at the Santiago Bernabeu, where victory would put them within touching distance of progessing to the knock-out stages.
“We feel good, we know the situation we are in,” said Zidane. “We are just thinking about getting the three points that would practically give us qualification.”
As well as Bale, James Rodriguez is unavailable, although Zidane would not clarify the Colombian´s injury.
Nacho and Marco Asensio are out with knee and cruciate ligament injuries respectively.
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Is a national and foreign correspondent based in D.C. She files investigative reports and covers breaking news on a range of topics, including corruption, police shootings, etc. Before joining the TimWorld in 2018, she worked at the Miami Herald. She was a John S. Knight fellow at Stanford University.