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Real Madrid's Gareth Bale steps up comeback ahead of Bernabeu Clasico

ESPN's Fernando Palomo delves into Spain's most storied rivalry, as Lionel Messi and Barcelona get set to take on Cristiano Ronaldo and Real Madrid.

Gareth Bale has stepped up his bid to return from injury in time for Real Madrid's home Clasico against Barcelona on Sunday.

Bale suffered a calf problem in the Champions League win at Bayern Munich earlier this month and did not feature in either the Liga win at Sporting Gijon or the second leg against Bayern.

A club statement released after training on Thursday said the Wales international had taken part in some of the session before heading indoors to work alone.

"Bale rejoined the group in a session in which the starting XI from Tuesday's game carried out drills using the ball, before training using the indoor facilities," the statement said.

"Pepe continued his recovery process, while [Rafael] Varane trained alone out on the pitch."

According to radio station La Ser, Madrid medical staff have said a swelling in the affected muscle means Bale would risk further damage if he returned to action too soon.

After Tuesday's second leg at the Bernabeu, coach Zinedine Zidane said both midfielder Toni Kroos and right-back Dani Carvajal had muscle issues after the 120 minutes.

However, it appears neither problem was too serious and both should be available for Sunday.

Madrid are three points clear of Barca at the top of the table with a game in hand as they seek a first league title in five seasons.

Dermot Corrigan is a Madrid-based football writer who covers La Liga and the Spain national team for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @dermotmcorrigan

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