Zidane hints Bale is close to Real Madrid return

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The Wales international is working his way back to fitness after injury and his coach has given an encouraging update on his current progress

Zinedine Zidane has hinted that Gareth Bale is closing in on a return to action for Real Madrid after ankle surgery.

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The Wales international has been sidelined since November after picking up the problem during Madrid’s Champions League win over Sporting.

Bale underwent an operation to cure the injury and, speaking after his side’s 3-0 win over Real Socieded, Zidane suggested a return was close, telling reporters: “Bale? He’s now [working] on the pitch with his boots.”

Sunday’s victory saw Madrid extend their lead at the top of the table to four points and Zidane admitted it was a crucial win.

“More than a victory? It’s a very important victory for us after a difficult few days,” he added.

“It was a very complete match against a very complicated team to face. It was very important for us to have kept a clean sheet. In addition to that, results have favoured us.

Zinedine Zidane Real Madrid Real Sociedad LaLiga 29012017

“We must thank the Bernabeu. Sometimes the whistles affect us, but today they were very good and together we’ve achieved something important.

“We went to press at the start of the game, but we made a bit of a mess of it. I wasn’t happy, so in the second half we changed.

“We dropped a little deeper and came out more on the counterattack. Eusebio is right, sometimes possession isnt everything.

“The first goal, for example, we worked on it a lot, with Karim, Cristiano and Kovacic coming from behind. This makes me happy.

“It was a fair scoreline, we didn’t give many chances away and that’s very important.

“Defensively we were very solid. Although in the first half we dealt with the pressure poorly, we rectified it in the second and it is what it is.

“It’s motivating, of course, when you see your opponents drop points, they make you want to do better.”

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Ronaldo was on target for the hosts but was jeered by some sections of the Bernabeu although Zidane sought to play it down after the final whistle.

“Ronaldo? I don’t think they booed him, we must thank the crowd, it was an important victory,” he explained.

“Kovacic? I’m happy with him. Every time he plays, he does well, today he scored a goal and I liked his performance a lot. A player of his level is very good for Madrid.”