Zinedine Zidane hopes Gareth Bale could be back in contention as soon as next week even though the injury-prone star suffered a new blow during Real Madrid's Copa del Rey draw against Fuenlabrada on Tuesday night (28 November).
The French coach also confirmed Sergio Ramos will be ready to return to action when Los Blancos visit Athletic Club Bilbao on Saturday (2 December) in search of a victory to close the eight-point gap on Barcelona at the top of La Liga.
Bale made his long-awaited return to action during Tuesday's clash with the Second Division B team, having been on the sidelines since the Champions League victory over Borussia Dortmund on 26 September due to different muscle problems.
The former Tottenham Hotspur star came off the bench in the 62<sup>nd minute and took little time proving his worth, creating two goals for Borja Mayoral as Real secure a 2-2 draw to progress to the last 16 with a 4-2 aggregate win.
But a day later it emerged that Bale had felt some discomfort during the game and was therefore going to be rested in the upcoming clash at San Mames.
Zidane confirmed the setback during his pre-match press conference but the Real boss expects his player to recover again as soon as next week.
"Bale hasn't got anything serious. It's just a bit of discomfort and we don't want to risk it. I couldn't tell you when he started to feel pain. He was feeling it in his calf, it's the way it is. He's got real power and he has to be fully fit to play. With it being in his calf, we really want to fix this problem. I'm always positive, although he's not having the best time right now, he'll come through it. We have to give him lots of support as he recovers. We can't forget that he's a key player for us and when he's fit, he's capable of unbelievable things. We have to be patient," the Real manager said ahead of Los Blancos' trip to Bilbao.
"That [his return date] depends on him. I hope it'll be next week. I believe in Bale, as does everyone else. It's a difficult situation and because he's an athlete and a particular type of player, he has to be 100% to play. There have been some games when he's not been right physically and we don't want to take the risk and have him out even longer. He's the first that wants to be back with us. He wants to play, win games and be with his teammates. It's nothing serious and I hope he's back with us soon. The most important thing is that he feels fit enough."
Zidane will this be hoping to have him Bale available either for the Champions League home game with Dortmund on Wednesday (6 December) or for the following La Liga clash with Sevilla.
Marco Asensio and Luca Zidane also remain on the sidelines but the Real boss provided better news regarding Ramos.
The captain has missed the last three games after breaking his nose against Atletico Madrid but he will be available to lead Los Blancos' back-line at San Mames while wearing a protective mask.
"Sergio is fit for tomorrow because he's back with the group," Zidadane confirmed. "We know it'll be a difficult game because we know the ground and the fans, but we're ready to put in a good performance. This week has been great. We're hungry to try and put in a performance. We always want more and we'll give it all we've got. It'll be a good game against a good team tomorrow."
Ramos' return is a major boost for Real ahead of busy months which will include the first El Clasico of the season against Barcelona on 23 December and the Fifa Club World Cup campaign.
Zidane hopes Los Blancos can put more pressure on the leaders in December after last week reducing the gap to two points last week after Barcelona were held to a draw by Valencia.
"We've got some great games coming up and we want to perform well. December is a crucial month and we can't wait to get going. We want to show what we're worth," Zidane added.
"We know we've got three or four big games coming up. There will be great some matches this month and we have to play at the level we know we can. We haven't been able to string together a good run of performances. I've got a very positive group and we know we can turn things around".