Football: Gareth Bale returns to Madrid squad

Bale, who has scored 13 goals altogether this season, has not played since Jan 17.
Bale, who has scored 13 goals altogether this season, has not played since Jan 17.PHOTO: AFP

MADRID (AFP) - Gareth Bale is back in the Real Madrid squad for Saturday's home clash with Celta Vigo after a month and a half on the sidelines with a nagging calf problem.

"Gareth will be back in the squad. It's great news for everyone," said Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane at a press conference on Friday, although he admitted the Welshman may not feature in the game at the Santiago Bernabeu.

"We'll see how it goes but the important thing is that he is with us. We need to go one step at a time."

Bale's return to something like fitness is a timely piece of good news for Real, who are currently without Karim Benzema due to a thigh injury and entertain Roma in the Champions League last 16, second leg next week leading 2-0 from the first leg.

Bale, who has scored 13 goals altogether this season, has not played since the 5-1 home win against Sporting Gijon on Jan 17.

Zidane also welcomes back Marcelo, Sergio Ramos and Dani Carvajal, but the midfield will be deprived of Luka Modric and Toni Kroos because of injury and illness respectively.

Real are currently third in La Liga, 12 points behind leaders Barcelona, but Zidane remains positive after the 3-1 midweek win at Levante helped them bounce back from their 1-0 derby defeat at home to Atletico Madrid last weekend.

"I am still smiling despite the situation," insisted the Frenchman.

"When you lose it's not pleasant. When I took over, I knew that two draws or a defeat and it would be a catastrophe.

"I knew that. I experienced it as a player. It is not new for me. I assume responsibility but we will keep working and I am convinced in what we are doing."