Real Madrid legend Fernando Hierro has played down fears over Gareth Bale's back injury, claiming that he played much of his professional career with the same problem.
The Spanish giants have hit out at reports which claimed the Welshman would require surgery on a chronic back problem, insisting that the €100 million (£85m) man was afflicted with merely a minor disc bulge.
And Hierro believes that the injury will not prove a long-term hindrance to the former Tottenham star, telling reporters: "Look no further than me, because I had the same condition.
"Every patient is different but in my case it was fine. I played until I was 37 years old despite that injury and I still train with the veterans without any problems.
"After 18 years as a professional, I'm still enjoying playing football and I never had to have an operation to treat it."
The legendary defender went on to say that he believes the 24-year-old should be afforded adequate time to regain full fitness after missing the majority of pre-season.
"He had an atypical pre-season and he would have felt very tense during this time," Hierro explained. "Therefore it's up to the club and the medical services to make that decision.
"I don't know the details. He's signed a long contract and will be around for many years."