Real Madrid suffered something of an injury scare on Tuesday (1 August) as Gareth Bale hobbled out of a training session with an apparent ankle problem just one week before the reigning Spanish and European champions lock horns with Manchester United for the second time this summer in the Uefa Super Cup.
In a video that has been widely distributed on social media, Bale is seen walking off the pitch early at Soldier Field as Los Blancos prepare to face the Major League Soccer (MLS) All-Stars in their final pre-season friendly in Chicago.
The Wales forward missed almost three months of action during a frustrating 2016-17 campaign after undergoing surgery to repair damaged tendons in his right ankle.
He was later bothered by a grade two calf issue and featured only as a late substitute in his home city of Cardiff as Real became the first team ever to win back-to-back Champions League titles with a thumping victory over Juventus.
Bale has started all three of Real's previous three matches on their US tour, but has been criticised for his standard of performance during successive International Champions Cup defeats to United, Manchester City and Barcelona.
The extent of the 28-year-old's declining popularity among supporters at the Santiago Bernabeu was laid bare by a poll conducted by Spanish daily AS last month in which 72% (approximately 31,000) of voters indicated that they would support his sale amid rumours of renewed interest from Jose Mourinho.
Despite more injury worries and a lack of form, manager Zinedine Zidane insists he has no concerns regarding Bale as he continues to work his way back to full fitness.
"He looks good to me"
"He looks good to me, little by little, he's had a long injury," he told reporters during a press conference. "The pre-season has been very good since the beginning. I'm not worried about his performance, because the whole team has had good moments and not as good moments".
Spanish daily Marca have also allayed fears regarding any setback, reporting that Bale's premature exit from the training session was likely only precautionary and that it had been confirmed as nothing serious. They also suggest that he will be available to face the MLS All-Stars.
Real midfielder Toni Kroos returned to practice earlier this week after an ankle injury, while captain Sergio Ramos played 45 minutes of the 3-2 El Clasico defeat to Barcelona in Miami on Sunday following an ear complaint. An accidental training collision between defenders Nacho and Dani Carvajal is not expected to have any lasting impact, despite leaving the latter nursing a sore nose.
Cristiano Ronaldo missed Real's trip to the US after his exertions with Portugal at the Confederations Cup and the exact date of his comeback remains unclear. However, he will be expected to rejoin the squad upon their return to Spain.
After that clash with United in Skopje, Zidane's side face a two-legged Spanish Super Cup tie against Copa del Rey winners Barcelona before opening the defence of their first La Liga title since 2012 against Deportivo La Coruna at the Estadio Riazor on Sunday 20 August.