MADRID - Gareth Bale will once again be sidelined for Real Madrid's visit to Athletic Bilbao on Saturday due to the recurrence of a calf problem suffered in his first appearance for two months in midweek.
The Welshman rode to the rescue of an inexperienced Real side against third tier Fuenlabrada in the Copa del Rey as he came off the bench in the final half hour to set up Borja Mayoral's double in a 2-2 draw that sealed Madrid's place in the last 16 on Tuesday
However, he hasn't trained with his teammates since and Real boss Zinedine Zidane refused to set a timeframe for Bale's latest return.
“It is nothing serious, it is just a niggle and, as always, we don't want to take any risks,” Zidane said on Friday.
Bale has been dogged by a series of injuries over the past year that has seen him complete 90 minutes just four times for the European champions in the last 12 months.
Zidane, though, pleaded for patience in the knowledge that a healthy Bale could still prove decisive in the final months of the season.
“Gareth's problem is that he is a very strong, very powerful player and he needs to feel right to play,” added Zidane.
“As in many previous occasions it is the calf. It is a tough time for him right now, but we will come through it and all the people around Gareth have to show him a lot of affection until he is better.
“We can't forget he is an important player for us and when he is fit, he is phenomenal. We need to be patient.”
Zidane will be able to recall captain Sergio Ramos for the first time since he broke his nose in the Madrid derby against Atletico two weeks ago with the Spanish international set to wear a protective mask.