Gareth Bale will make his long-awaited return to action against Espanyol, Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane has confirmed. The Wales international has not played since the Champions League win over Sporting CP on November 22, when he suffered an ankle injury.
It had been hoped that Bale, who returned to first-team training last weekend, would be available for the clash with Napoli this week but Zidane opted to grant him extra time to prove his fitness.
And the former Tottenham star will be back on the pitch at the Santiago Bernabeu on Saturday, although it remains unlikely that he will start.
"Bale will be in the squad and the idea is for him to have some minutes," Zidane told a news conference on Friday. "He's excited to be with us and we're happy to have him, although we still have two or three who have injuries. Nearly everyone is ready.
"Bale is an important player. We know his quality, his speed, the damage he can cause the opposition. I'm happy to have him but he's even happier to be back with the team and ready to play."
A victory for Madrid would take them four points clear of second-place Barcelona at the top of LaLiga, having played one game less than the champions.