Real Madrid star Gareth Bale given some much-needed good news to manager Zinedine Zidane, returning to training on 1 March following 43 days on the sidelines. The Wales international, however, will not feature in the 2 March trip to Levante as Zidane does not want to rush his comeback.
However there was bad news on the injury front, as Luka Modric joined Marcelo and Karim Benzema in the treatment room ahead of the Levante match, which also sees Dani Carvajal and Sergio Ramos ruled out by suspension.
Alvaro Arbeloa will also not play, despite featuring in training following his absence in the loss to Atletico Madrid. Zidane has been forced to call up four academy players to complete his 19-man squad, with defender Alvaro Tejero joining the first team alongside Martin Odegaard, Marcos Llorente and striker Borja Mayoral.
Bale suffered a muscle injury to his right soleus during victory over Sporting Gijon on 17 January, just as the Welshman seemed to be recovering from a poor run of form by hitting 11 goals in eight games. The former Spurs star was originally ruled out for three weeks, but a setback in his recovery has seen him on the sidelines for over a month.
The club confirmed via a statement on its official website that Bale has returned to training sessions on Tuesday, just one day before the trip to Levante. However, Zidane confirmed in a press conference that the player will not see any game time until the weekend match with Celta Vigo, at the earliest.
"I'm pleased because he feels no discomfort and his injury is a thing of the past," said Zidane ,as quoted by Marca. "He's a key player for Real Madrid. Of course, I don't say that it's a problem when he's unavailable but I'd rather have him with us. Let's see if he can play at the weekend", he added, hinting that the Welshman might yet play a part in Saturday's clash with Celta.
The good news at the Santiago Bernabeu was overshadowed by the new injury blow when Modric missed training with a problem in his ankle.
"Modric picked up a nasty knock to his foot and won't make it back in time", Zidane confirmed.
The Croatia international's setback comes just one day after the club revealed that Benzema suffered an injury to his right biceps femoris during the humiliating home defeat against Atletico Madrid on Saturday, with reports suggesting that the France international is going to one the sidelines for around three weeks.
Marcelo also remains on the sidelines as he did during the derby. With Ramos and Carvajal also out due to suspension, Zidane faces a major dilemma in his back line, with only four senior defenders available in the shape Raphael Varane, Nacho Danilo and Pepe, who returns to the squad after more than a month out.
Real Madrid 19-man squad to face Levante:
Goalkeepers: Keylor Navas, Casilla and Yáñez.
Defenders: Varane, Pepe, Nacho, Danilo and Álvaro Tejero.
Midfielders: Kroos, James, Casemiro, Kovacic, Isco, Odegaard and Marcos Llorente.
Forwards: Cristiano Ronaldo, Lucas Vázquez, Jesé and Borja Mayoral.