Bale likely to play for Real Madrid after long injury lay-off

- Reuters

Feb 17, 2017-Gareth Bale is expected to play for the first time since November when Real Madrid host Espanyol on Saturday in La Liga, coach Zinedine Zidane said on Friday.

The Welsh forward will fortify Real's attack as they try to go four points clear of Barcelona at the top of the standings. Real have two games in hand.

"Bale will be included in the squad and our idea is that he will be given minutes," Zidane said a news conference. "He has already been training with us this week and he is looking forward to playing."

Bale scored seven goals and set up three in 16 appearances for Real before he hurt his right ankle during a Champions League victory at Sporting Lisbon. He underwent surgery in November.

"We know the quality he has, the speed that he brings when he plays in his position," Zidane said. "We know the damage he can cause to opponents."

Zidane also said that Spanish forward Alvaro Morata would start against Espanyol. Morata has not started since Dec. 10 and has played 90 minutes in the last seven games.

Real have not lost at home this season in La Liga. They host an Espanyol side that won three in a row before last Sunday's home defeat to Real Sociedad.

Real will be without captain Sergio Ramos and Marcelo, who suffered minor knocks on Wednesday, and Fabio Coentrao is still sidelined. All are expected back in training next week.

Zidane, meanwhile, was asked about Barcelona's 4-0 defeat at PSG in midweek and whether that result might make the Catalans more determined to retain the domestic title.

"It's not going to change anything," Zidane said. "We just focus on ourselves. "There's a return leg.

"We know that Barcelona is a very good team and can do things in this competition."

Published: 17-02-2017 20:39

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