Zidane says Bale fit for Copa del Rey test


Madrid (AFP) – Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane has said Gareth Bale is fit and ready to play against Unionistas de Salamanca on Wednesday in the Copa del Rey. 

Bale was left out of the squad for Madrid’s win over Sevilla on Saturday and Zidane said after the match he had picked up a knock. 

The Welshman trained with his teammates last week, after also missing the Spanish Super Cup in Saudi Arabia through illness. 

It means Bale has not played for Real Madrid since January 4, when he started their 3-0 win away Getafe. He has not scored for his club since September 1. 

Asked why Bale and James Rodriguez, who has hardly featured in the last two months, have “disappeared”, Zidane said: “They haven’t disappeared. They were both injured the other day. They are both ready to play.” 

Real Madrid play in the last 32 of the Copa del Rey against Unionistas de Salamanca, the fan-owned club launched in 2013 after UD Salamanca went out of business. 

Unionistas, who now play in Spain’s third tier, have faced problems preparing for the tie given their stadium at Las Pistas del Helmantico can hold 3,000 spectators, with only one stand and insufficient lighting. 

The pitch is surrounded by an athletics track. 

“All the players have started playing on pitches like this, me as well,” said Zidane, when it was suggested the pitch could cause Real Madrid problems. 

“We are prepared both mentally and in a sporting sense as well because we know where we are going to play and we know what to expect. 

“Perhaps it was 10 or 15 years ago but we have all played on pitches like this, in difficult situations. It will not be a problem for us.” 

Zidane is likely to rest key players, with a trip to Real Valladolid to come in La Liga on Sunday and the Madrid derby against Atletico scheduled for the following weekend. 

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