Carlo Ancelotti has backed Gareth Bale to “deliver” for Real Madrid for the remainder of the season and praised the forward’s “committed” attitude in training after returning from his latest injury setback.
Bale, 32, has not played for his club since August and has been an unused substitute in Madrid’s last four matches.
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Madrid are going into a crucial period, travelling to sixth-placed Villarreal in LaLiga on Saturday before facing Paris Saint-Germain in the first-leg of their Champions League round-of-16 clash on Tuesday.
“He’s training well, and he’s committed,” Ancelotti said in a news conference on Friday when asked if Bale could still contribute this year. “It’s one thing seeing something in training and another to see it in a game.
“I think when I pick him, he’ll deliver. You might ask why I haven’t picked him yet, but since his last injury it’s been hard for him to get back to a good physical condition… I think he’s ready to play.”
Bale — whose contract at the Bernabeu expires in June — started Madrid’s first three league games of this season before thigh muscle, calf muscle and hamstring injuries ruled him out for the remainder of the campaign so far.
In that time he has played more games for his country Wales, making four appearances and including scoring a hat trick in their World Cup qualifier at Belarus in September.
Ancelotti also added there were “good feelings” about Karim Benzema‘s chances of returning for the PSG game, with the team’s top scorer in a race to recover in time from a muscular problem.
“He’s been training individually. We’ll have to wait for him to start training with the team, and then take a decision,” Ancelotti said. “Until Sunday or Monday I won’t be able to say, but the feelings of everyone — me, him, the doctors — are positive.”
“The health of the player comes first,” he added. “If we think Karim can play, he’ll play without risks. If there’s the slightest risk we won’t take it. We have to evaluate it, we have four days to decide.”
Madrid’s clash with PSG is arguably the most high-profile tie of this Champions League round-of-16, with much of the focus on PSG forward — and Madrid transfer target — Kylian Mbappe.
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