Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane has confirmed that long-term injury absentee Gareth Bale remains on the sidelines ahead of Saturday's (11 February) trip to Osasuna but will surely be back in contention before the second-leg of the Champions League last-16 against Napoli on 7 March. The news is also a boost for Chris Coleman as it means that the former Tottenham star should be ready to represent his country in the upcoming 2018 World Cup qualifier against Republic of Ireland on 24 March.
The former Tottenham Hotspur star scored 7 goals in 16 games in a blistering start to the season which also saw him committing his long-term future to the Santiago Bernabeu by signing a new deal.
However, his momentum was halted during the Champions League 2-1 victory over Sporting on 22 November, when he was forced off and replaced by Marco Asensio in the 55th minute of the game following a tackle from Sebastian Coates.
The Wales international underwent an operation at the King Edward VII Hospital in London one week later, with original reports suggesting he was going to be out of action for between three and four months.
However, Zidane has revealed Bale is now close to returning to action, and set for a comeback in the decisive second-leg with Napoli, almost three months after undergoing surgery.
"I hope to have him back with us before the second-leg against Napoli," Zidane confirmed. "He's fine and he needs to get back training with the team, which is absolutely crucial. He's working well and I can see he looks motivated."
Bale is reassuringly the only player left in the Real Madrid treatment room ahead of a crucial week which will see Los Blancos visiting Osasuna before the first-leg of the Champions League last-16 clash with Napoli.
James Rodriguez, Pepe, Luka Modric, Marcelo and Dani Carvajal missed that last victory over Real Sociedad on 29 January but are all back available to face Osasuna.