Gareth Bale hands Real Madrid and Wales a fitness boost with earlier than expected return
The forward has been out of action for the past month with a hamstring injury and it had been feared that he could be unavailable for selection until late November.
Bale started each of Real Madrid’s opening three matches of the campaign and played in the international double header in September against Belarus – against whom he netted a hat-trick – and Estonia.
The 32-year-old had returned to club duty the following week in full fitness but subsequently limped out of training with his right leg wrapped in a bandage after discomfort in his muscle worsened.
No timescale was initially placed on Bale’s possible return to action although such muscular injuries often carry a layoff period of between eight and ten weeks, although his recovery has been better than first feared.
Wales boss Robert Page told reporters earlier this month when asked on an update: "Fortunately he is recovering better than expected and we are fairly sure he will be back in November."
Bale was subsequently unavailable for the crucial Wales World Cup qualification matches this month, which saw Page’s side draw 2-2 in the Czech Republic on Friday night ahead of Monday’s trip to Estonia.
Having been held by the Baltic nation in Cardiff last month, that could prove a crucial match in their qualification hopes – with Wales currently third in their group, behind Czech Republic on goal difference for the playoff spot, but with a game in hand.
This fitness update means that Bale is likely to be available for next month’s matches at home to Belarus and Belgium, the latter of whom will likely have already qualified in top spot in the group.
Bale may even be in contention to return for Madrid in time for this month’s El Clasico, which is on 24 October.
Bale is back in the Spanish capital following a season-long loan spell at Tottenham and his resurgence at the club was an unexpected redemption story after his spell appeared to be over.
The forward netted in this season’s 3-3 draw at Levante and appeared to have the trust of the Italian boss, with whom he won the Copa del Rey and Champions League titles in 2014.
Bale netted 16 goals for Spurs during his loan stint at the North London club last season but has now returned to the Spanish giants - where his early revival had initially defied expectations.
He had been utilised in his preferred wide attacking role in the early weeks of the campaign in a front-line which also included Karim Benzema and Eden Hazard.
Madrid are not short of attacking options with Vinicius Junior, Marco Asensio and Rodrygo Goes other options in a similar position to Bale, while they are reportedly hopeful of signing Kylian Mbappe from Paris Saint-Germain next summer.