MADRID (Reuters) – Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane has confirmed Gareth Bale is out of Saturday’s La Liga match at home to Espanyol after he sustained yet another muscle injury but said he did not think the player could do anything more to ease his fitness problems.
Bale has missed 77 games due to injury since signing for Real Madrid from Tottenham Hotspur for a then world record fee of 100 million euros ($110 million) and suffered his latest setback in last week’s 2-1 win at Alaves, his first start in two months.
Real have not released any medical information on Bale’s latest problem but on Thursday issued medical reports on Eden Hazard and Marcelo, who will also miss the Espanyol match, with Hazard set to be out for the rest of the year.
“The injury happened against Alaves and after resting for a few days he was still feeling discomfort. He is unable to train normally,” Zidane told reporters ahead of Saturday’s game, where Real will be searching for a fifth win in six league games.
The Spanish media have often linked Bale’s much-publicised fondness for playing golf in his spare time with his injury issues but Zidane said he had no problem with what the player did away from training.
“I’m not going to prevent Gareth or any other player from doing anything. The players are old enough and they know what they need to do,” he said.
“I don’t think players can do anything else to avoid injuries. It’s not just important to train well, you have to eat well and recover properly and I think our players do that and we have the best medical staff looking out for them.”
Real are second in La Liga, locked on 31 points with leaders Barcelona less than two weeks before visiting their arch rivals in the ‘Clasico’ at the Camp Nou on Dec. 18.
Real’s next opponents Espanyol are second bottom of La Liga but Zidane said there was no chance of his side resting on their laurels.
“They don’t deserve to be where they are in the table and if we don’t take the game seriously we will run into problems, there’s zero chance of us relaxing,” he added.
($1 = 0.9073 euros)
(Reporting by Richard Martin; Editing by Toby Davis)