Gareth Bale is set for a new spell on the sidelines after scans revealed the Real Madrid ace suffered "a grade 2 injury in his left calf" during the 3-2 defeat to Barcelona on Sunday (23 April). Zinedine Zidane has played down the extent of the blow but reports in Spain suggest that Bale could be out for three or four weeks –missing both legs of the Champions League semi-finals against Atletico Madrid on 2 and 10 May.
Bale, 27, was unavailable for recent wins over Bayern Munich and Sporting Gijon after being forced off with a calf injury during the first leg of the Champions League quarter-finals against the Bundesliga giants on 12 April.
The former Tottenham Hotspur star appeared to shake off those problems in time for the hotly anticipated El Clasico tie against Barcelona.
However, the Real Madrid ace lasted just 39 minutes, being replaced by Marco Asensio before half-time after suffering a recurrence of the injury.
The reigning Champions League holders confirmed the blow on Tuesday (25 April) after scans revealed the player had suffered a grade 2 injury in his left calf.
"Following the tests carried out on Gareth Bale by the Sanitas Medical Services, the player has been diagnosed with a grade 2 injury in his left calf. His recovery will continue to be assessed," Real Madrid said on their official website.
The news is a major concern for Real Madrid ahead of the crucial final part of the campaign. In the coming weeks, Los Blancos face Champions League semi-finals but also have six key games in their battle with Barcelona for La Liga.
Reports in Spain are suggesting that Bale will miss the two European encounters with Atletico Madrid, but Zidane was more optimistic in his press conference.
Asked in the press conference whether Bale could miss the rest of the league season, Zidane said: "No, I hope he's with us before the end [of the league]. It is a small thing and we will see. [I hope] that in a short time he will be with us. We will see it day by day. I trust in the people [doctors] who work at the club."
Meanwhile, Zidane defended his decision to start Bale against Barcelona, saying he thought Bale had completely recovered from his previous injury after the Welshman trained before the game without any problems.
"We are sad. He was 100%, like he told me. The two training sessions before the game were perfect. He trained normally but this we cannot avoid happening. The player does not want [to get injured], what he wants is to play," Zidane said in a press conference ahead of Real Madrid's trip to Deportivo La Coruna on Wednesday.
Bale suffered a serious ankle injury earlier in the season and Zidane suggested those three months on the sidelines have played a role in his recent muscle blows.
"I have the experience that when a player has a very long injury it is difficult [to return]. When you return it is not the same. You train and sometimes you have another niggle somewhere else. I hope it will be a little thing. It's an injury but it's not much. Let's hope he can return quickly"