Real Madrid's Gareth Bale has calf strain, but 'nothing important' - Zidane
Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane has confirmed that Gareth Bale has a new calf muscle strain and is a doubt for Sunday's La Liga game at home to Espanyol as well as Wales' crucial upcoming World Cup qualifiers.
Bale left the pitch with an apparent muscle issue late in Tuesday's 3-1 Champions League Group H win at Borussia Dortmund, although the club indicated at that point that it was just cramp and Zidane said it was "nothing important."
Madrid have not officially confirmed any new injury for Bale, but Zidane admitted at a news conference there was a problem, with the Wales international having not taken part in group training since the club's return from Germany and missing Saturday's session along with the injured Marcelo, Mateo Kovacic, Theo Hernandez and Karim Benzema.
"[Bale] has a strain, nothing important," Zidane said. "But here we do not like to take risks if a player has something small. We will see if Gareth is with us tomorrow."
Wales play in Georgia on Oct. 6 and host Republic of Ireland three days later, with Chris Coleman's side currently second in Group D, four points behind leaders Serbia and one ahead of third-placed Ireland.
"[Gareth] will go with his country if he has to go with his country," Zidane said when asked if Bale would join up with Wales next week. "There is no problem between Madrid and [Wales]. It depends on his fitness, nothing else. We will go day by day."
Madrid are still without a win in three La Liga home games this season, drawing with Levante and Valencia, and losing 1-0 to Real Betis last time out.
Zidane denied that the demanding Santiago Bernabeu crowd was affecting his team's performances.
"We would love to play all our games here at the Bernabeu," he said. "It's true we dropped points in La Liga, but tomorrow we have a chance to change things.
"We know that although we have the best players that does not mean we win every game by three or four goals. We must prove ourselves again every day -- that is what I like about this job, and my players too. They want to show, after some bad results, that we are capable of changing this."
Zidane was asked about Cristiano Ronaldo reportedly seeking a new contract with an annual salary to match the €30 million net earned by Neymar at Paris Saint-Germain.
"Cristiano is the same as always, most interested about playing games and scoring goals," Zidane said. "I am not getting into this [about contracts]. That is between the club and Cristiano. There will be no problems between them."
In recent weeks Madrid players including Isco, Benzema and Marco Asensio have all signed new deals and spoken to the media afterwards.
Zidane says he has agreed a contract extension, but made clear he had no wish for his own public event.
"I have already been presented here as coach," he said. "That's enough."
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