Gareth Bale returns to Real Madrid squad for visit of Osasuna as Zinedine Zidane denies rift between him and the Wales superstar… but Eden Hazard remains out injured
- Gareth Bale has returned to the Real Madrid squad for the first time in weeks
- Madrid face Osasuna on Sunday night looking to stay top of La Liga
- Manager Zinedine Zidane has backed Bale to succeed at the Bernabeu this year
- Eden Hazard remains injured for Real but Casemiro and Lucas Vazquez return
Gareth Bale is back in the Real Madrid squad for a La Liga game for the first time in over a month after being included for Sunday’s match at Osasuna although Eden Hazard did not make the squad as he continues his recovery from an ankle injury.
Bale, Real’s joint-record signing, last featured in the league in a 3-0 win over Getafe on January 4 but missed the Spanish Super Cup due to illness and then hurt his ankle in the Copa del Rey victory at Unionistas de Salamanca.
He returned to training soon after but was discarded for last week’s derby win over Atletico Madrid and Thursday’s Copa del Rey quarter-final defeat by Real Sociedad.
Gareth Bale is set to return to the Real Madrid squad after missing recent games with injury
But coach Zinedine Zidane said there was no problem between him and 30-year-old Wales international Bale, who has helped the club win four Champions League titles during his time in the Spanish capital but continues to divide the club’s support.
‘I have to make a squad list and sometimes he isn’t in it but there’s no problem, it’s not a lack of respect,’ Zidane told a news conference ahead of the Osasuna game, before revealing his squad.
‘We still count on him and he wants to fight for his place in the team. He hasn’t been in the team recently but we still count on him, we know what he can give us.’
Bale has had a difficult time with the La Liga giants and has spent many games on the bench
Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane has denied a rift between him and Welsh wizard Bale
Hazard, who Real also signed for 100 million euros ($109.43 million) when he joined in June, has been back in training for over two weeks after injuring his ankle against Paris St Germain on Nov. 26 but is still not in the squad after missing the Atletico game.
Real top the standings with a three-point lead over nearest challengers Barcelona but will be looking for a response after losing 4-3 at home to Sociedad to exit the Copa del Rey, which was their first defeat in any competition since October.
Brazilian midfielder Casemiro also returns to the squad for the visit to Osasuna after missing the Real Sociedad defeat with a knock, as do winger Lucas Vazquez and defender Dani Carvajal.
Bale’s team-mate and fellow attacker Eden Hazard remains sidelined with an ankle injury
However Real Madrid duo Lucas Vazquez (left) and Casemiro (right) return from injury
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