Zinedine Zidane insists Gareth Bale is not a trouble-causer at Real Madrid, with the coach adamant he will always back his players.
Bale has become a target of vitriol from Madrid’s fans and sections of the Spanish media in recent seasons, with the Wales forward – who has also struggled with injuries – having often fallen down the pecking order.
The 30-year-old also incurred the wrath of the local press and Los Blancos support when he celebrated with a flag bearing the message “WALES. GOLF. MADRID… IN THAT ORDER” following Wales’ qualification for Euro 2020.
Having scored in Madrid’s 3-1 Copa del Rey win over Unionistas de Salamanca on Wednesday, Bale will not be available for Sunday’s LaLiga encounter with Real Vallodolid due to an ankle injury.
But, when asked why he has defended the player in the past, Zidane stated he has no issues with Bale, who has scored just three goals this season.
“I always defend my players. It’s not that I need to. They train every day, they work hard and want to defend the Real Madrid badge,” Zidane told a news conference.
“So I don’t share the same opinion. It’s true he’s had a few injuries but you can’t do anything when a player is injured.
“Hopefully he can string together more games, a few training sessions, get minutes under his belt and get back into playing and training at the same pace as his team-mates.
“When he is fit we want him to come back and be in good shape. It is a shame. He is not happy because he wants to be training with the side.”
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Zidane also refuted the suggestion Bale had exaggerated his injury as to not play against Vallodolid.
“I am always worried when a player is injured, it’s something I don’t like to see,” Zidane said.
“I have 25 players here and it is tough to me because I have to pick a side, but I don’t want players injured. Gareth’s injury isn’t serious, a slight sprain and he’ll be back soon.
“You’re entitled to think what you want, but when I am with the player, I have spoken to him and he wants to be with the team and wants to play, but the other day he suffered a slight injury.”
Another Madrid player who is recovering from injury is Eden Hazard, who has returned to individual training. However, Zidane was unable to confirm if the Belgium international would be fit to feature against Atletico Madrid on February 1.
“I can’t confirm a comeback date as he has just started training with the ball. There is very little or no pain there now,” Zidane said.
“He will no doubt improve and hopefully be back with the team soon. It is excellent for the player to be able to train with the team, it’s good for his morale and confidence, but I can’t confirm a date.”
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