Gareth Bale has returned to training with his Real Madrid teammates, while Raphael Varane is the club’s most serious injury concern following the international break.
After the seriousness or otherwise of Bale’s back issue dominated the Madrid press last weekend, he returned to full training for the first time in 18 days on Wednesday. The Wales international now appears to be available for selection as his side face into games at home to Malaga [on Saturday] and then Juventus [next Wednesday], before the following weekend’s La Liga Clasico at Barcelona.
Luka Modric and Sergio Ramos missed Wednesday’s first session after the international break with minor knocks, but were back training fine on Thursday morning. But Varane was missing as he manages his comeback from a recent knee injury, and Xabi Alonso continued to work alone on his recovery from groin and foot problems.
"Sergio Ramos, Marcelo and Modric trained with the group in a session during which Carlo Ancelotti also called upon Castilla players [Jorge] Casado, [Diego] Llorente and Jose Rodriguez," said a Madrid club statement. "Varane worked inside while Xabi Alonso, who took to the pitch alone, continued his process of recovery."
Meanwhile, in the wake of Marca’s claim that Bale had a slipped disc and needed an operation, and Florentino Perez’s dismissal of the reports as "totally false", the Spanish media have continued to look into the fitness issues which have interrupted Bale’s first few months at the Bernabeu.
Former Madrid defender Fernando Hierro told AS that he had a similar 'protrusion' in his spinal column through his career, and had been able to play through it fine.
"I had it," Hierro said. "Each patient is different. But in my case it was fine. I played until 37 with that injury and I am still able to train with the veterans without any problem. After 18 years as a professional, I am still enjoying my football without having had to go for surgery."
But former Wales and Madrid manager John Toshack told 'El Partido de las 12' that concerns about Bale’s injury may have been the reason that the 100 million euro deal took so long to agree last summer.
"Something strange must have caused the transfer to drag on so long," Toshack said. "Something does not fit for me."
Toshack recalled that the player had been unfortunate with injury in the past.
"In my time [as Wales boss], Bale had very bad luck with his ankle, he needed an operation twice," he said.