Bale makes early return to Real Madrid training

Gareth Bale Real Madrid 2016
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The Wales international looks to be ahead of schedule in his recovery from surgery as he took part in group training for the first time

Gareth Bale has returned to group training at Real Madrid for the first time as he nears recovery from the ankle injury that has kept him sidelined for three months.

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Wales star Bale has been out of action since Madrid's 2-1 win over Sporting CP in the Champions League group stage in November, when he suffered ankle tendon damage that required surgery.

The club's official Twitter account posted a picture of Bale training with the first-team group ahead of the club's Champions League last-16 clash against Napoli on Wednesday, despite head coach Zinedine Zidane previously targeting a return for Bale in the second leg of that tie.

Madrid returned to the top of La Liga with a 3-1 win over Osasuna on Saturday and will not turn their attentions back to the defence of their Champions League trophy.

Bale has scored twice in his five European appearances this season, both goal coming against Legia Warsaw.