Football: Fit-again Bale left out for Napoli clash

Real Madrid's Gareth Bale attends a training session.
Real Madrid's Gareth Bale attends a training session. PHOTO: REUTERS

Madrid (AFP) - Gareth Bale will have to wait for his return to action after three months out as the Wales forward wasn't included in Zinedine Zidane's squad for Real Madrid's Champions League clash with Napoli on Wednesday.

Bale only returned to full training for the first time on Sunday since suffering ankle ligament damage in November.

Cristiano Ronaldo is included in Zidane's 19-man squad for the first leg of the European champions' last-16 Champions League tie after shrugging off a knock picked up in Saturday's 3-1 win at Osasuna.

"He has had nearly three months out and we have to go slowly with Gareth," said Zidane on Tuesday.

"It is his first week training with the team. He has had two training sessions, physically he is good...we will see if he is in the squad at the weekend.

"He is recovered and back with the team which is the most important thing."

Real midfielder and Bale's former team-mate at Tottenham Hotspur Luka Modric insisted his presence has been missed, despite Real's sensational form hardly skipping a beat since he suffered the injury away to Sporting Lisbon on November 22.

And Modric backed Bale's mental strength to return ahead of schedule after initial fears the 27-year-old could be sidelined for up to four months.

"It is always difficult when you don't play due to injuries," said Modric.

"He has done well in his recovery. He is very strong and concentrated on playing again.

"We miss him and we hope he returns now. He is mentally strong so it hasn't affected him.

"It is something that happens in football, but you have to face up to it and recover as best as possible as he has done."