MADRID (AFP) - Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti has said Gareth Bale is fit for selection when Los Blancos host Malaga on Saturday despite the fact the 24-year-old has a slight disc protrusion in his back.
Bale stayed in the Spanish capital to carry out a mini pre-season with the club's physical preparation team over the recent international break in a bid to rid himself from the niggling muscular injuries that have blighted his fledgling career at Real so far.
And Ancelotti said he knows from personal experience that a disc protrusion should have no impact on the Welshman's performance on the field.
"Bale is available for tomorrow," the Italian told a press conference on Friday.
"He doesn't have a back problem, his problem was the lack of a pre-season.
"If you look at his last four years he has played more than 120 games.
"He is working very well every day, now he is in much better condition and he is ready to play.
"I have personal experience of the problem, I had three protrusions and it never hindered my ability to play. Many players have this problem.
"Tomorrow, I want to give him minutes because he needs to play and to get to know how to play with the team."
The former Chelsea boss also rebuffed criticism from Wales manager Chris Coleman that he had unnecessarily rushed Bale into action by starting him on his debut against Villarreal on Sept 14.
That was the only time that Bale has started a match so far this season, but Coleman had used the former Spurs man for the final half-hour of Wales' 3-0 defeat by Serbia just four days previously.
"I have read that I was crazy to play him against Villarreal, but I wasn't the first one who played him, that was his national team manager. He didn't have any problems in Villarreal. It was afterwards that he suffered the thigh strain."
Of more concern for Ancelotti on the injury front is the status of French internationals Raphael Varane and Karim Benzema ahead of a huge week for Real.
Ancelotti's men host Juventus in the Champions League on Wednesday before travelling to face Barcelona next weekend.
Varane will definitely miss the clash with Malaga, whilst Alvaro Morata is in contention to start up front as Benzema is carrying a knock.
However, Ancelotti is confident his side will not lose more ground on Barca and Atletico Madrid at the top of the table by taking their eye off the ball against Malaga.
"The players who were away with their national teams have returned in good shape and there doesn't seem to be too many problems," he added.
"We have a very important week with games against Barcelona and Juventus, but I think the team are well focused on trying to win tomorrow's game."