Victor Lindelof & Gareth Bale
Real Madrid's Gareth Bale (right) has been linked with a transfer to Manchester UnitedReuters

Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane has told Gareth Bale to step up his game in the absence of Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo through injury and suspension, respectively.

Bale, 28, scored in Real's win over Deportivo La Coruna in the opening weekend of the La Liga season but has not found the back of the net since. He was jeered by sections of the Santiago Bernabeu faithful in the home games against Levante and Valencia.

Speaking ahead of Madrid's trip to Real Sociedad on 17 September, Zidane said he needed more from Bale but conceded that it would take time for the Welshman to return to his best following a lengthy injury layoff earlier this year.

"Lately the questions are all about Gareth, but each day he feels better," Zidane was quoted as saying by ESPN. "He had four months out of the team, and to return to his best level he will need four more months at least. We must give him time, and we are happy with him.

"The price puts you up there, you cannot do anything about that, it happened to me when I found it tough in my first months after I came here.

"If Gareth scores twice tomorrow, everyone will be happy. I hope he does and we change what people are thinking about Gareth.

"We want more from him on the pitch, he does too, but he will be very good very soon, for sure."

With Ronaldo and Benzema absent, Zidane insisted that Bale could handle the pressure of leading Madrid's attack against Real Sociedad.

"Gareth will play his own role," Zidane said. "We must not think that Gareth must step up without Karim and Cristiano.

"We have many players who can make the difference, each day it is someone else. The pressure does not affect him."

Manchester United have long been interested in signing Bale, with the club's manager Jose Mourinho saying in August that he would try to sign the Welshman if he was ever put up for sale by Real.