Gareth Bale is set to make his first start in nearly two months for Real Madrid against Roma in the Champions League round of 16 second leg after recovering from a calf injury. The Welsh forward returned to action for the Spanish giants at the weekend as a substitute, scoring in a 7-1 win over Celta Vigo.
Bale suffered the calf injury in Real's win over Sporting Gijon on 17 January and was initially expected to return for the Champions League round of 16 first leg against Roma. However, he suffered a setback in his recovery that forced him to spend two more weeks on the sidelines.
"It's great to return in this way and to score," the 26-year-old was quoted as saying by ESPN after the Celta match. "I have spent four days training with my teammates – now I have to train well and keep improving. It's nice to be back and to score, but the most important thing was taking all three points."
Bale has scored 14 goals in 16 league appearances for Madrid this season and his return is a timely boost for Zinedine Zidane ahead of the second leg against Roma. The Wales international attributed Real's crushing win against Celta to the fast tempo of their play.
"In the dressing room we have talked about playing a faster style so that we can do more damage to our opponents," he said.
"The most important thing was being able to continue building up our confidence and taking three points from the game. We want to go into our games hand in hand with the fans – with them we hope to achieve great things."
Zidane was pleased with Bale's return but was guarded when asked about his participation against Roma.
"Bale looked good, he was happy to play after so long," the Frenchman was reported as saying by Reuters. "We'll see... for the match against Roma but I think he's ready."