'I had to take a lot of painkillers to play' - Bale reveals that he returned too soon for Real Madrid

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Real Madrid forward Gareth Bale has come in for criticism recently and concedes he used painkillers to come back from injury too soon

Gareth Bale insists criticism of his performances at Real Madrid does not concern him, and revealed that he took 'a lot of painkillers' to get back into Zinedine Zidane's team last season.

The reigning Spanish and European champions have made a stuttering start to their LaLiga title defence in the absence of suspended talisman Cristiano Ronaldo, with Saturday's disappointing 1-1 draw at home to Levante leaving them on five points from three matches.

Madrid 7/2 to retain CL

Bale came off the bench and missed two clear chances against Levante, doing little to ease the scrutiny he currently finds himself under.

Don Balon reported a breakdown in relations between Bale and team-mates Isco and Marco Asensio over the weekend, while the 28-year-old Wales star has been linked with a return to the Premier League at Manchester United.

Nevertheless, Bale told El Pais he hopes his best is yet to come after three Champions League triumphs in four seasons at the Santiago Bernabeu.

"None," he replied when asked whether any particular criticisms bothered him. "It's all opinions. They have to sell newspapers in some way and have to write something.

"So I'm used to people writing good and bad things. I don't care too much.

"I hope the best is yet to come. Yes, there have been great moments and others, not so much."

Bale appeared as a substitute when Madrid beat Juventus 4-1 in last season's Champions League final, which was staged in the winger's home city of Cardiff.

In hindsight, Bale acknowledged he pushed to return too soon from an ankle injury that dogged his campaign – revealing he required painkillers to play.

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"On the one hand, it's easy now to say that I should have rested more. But when you've been injured for three months and you see your team-mates play you really want to come back and that's what I did," he explained.

"I had to take a lot of painkillers to play. And yes, now I think I should have taken more time to recuperate so I could have played much better and been able to do all those things that, with the ankle pain, I wasn't able to do.

"If I could go back, I would have taken more time to recover."

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