Football

Bale not '100 per cent' fit for final

Gareth Bale believes he isn't fit to last 90 minutes for Real Madrid in his homecoming to Cardiff for the Champions League final against Juventus on Sunday morning (Singapore time) and admitted taking painkillers to play earlier this season.

Bale hasn't featured since suffering the latest in a series of calf injuries that have plagued his time in Madrid, against Barcelona on April 23.

However, he claimed he has paid the price from rushing back from ankle ligament damage suffered in November and that his right ankle still hasn't fully recovered.

"I am not 100 per cent, I haven't played for six or seven weeks," Bale said on Tuesday.

"I obviously had my operation which still really hasn't recovered. I have been playing with a lot of pain, even when I came back, I was taking tablets to get through games and training.

"The last six or seven weeks have enabled me to rest my ankle a bit and really try to get it a bit better, and obviously recover from the injury which it caused."

Bale returned ahead of schedule from his ankle operation in February and scored on his comeback against Espanyol.

However, he quickly suffered niggling muscle problems before breaking down against Barca last month.

The Welshman is back in training with the hope of being involved in European football's showpiece as Real look to become the first side to retain the trophy in the Champions League era.

However, he is realistic that he is unlikely to oust the in-form Isco Rodriguez from Zinedine Zidane's starting line-up.

"I think Isco has been fantastic," said Bale.

"The last few weeks, he has been playing very well, so I am happy for him and he has helped the team enormously at the end of the season.

"Whether he or I start, we will both be cheering each other on and hoping the team win.

"The most important thing is how we perform as a team and win the trophy at the end of it."

Zidane said he will not be swayed by popular opinion in his selection dilemma over whether to play Bale or Isco in the final.

"It's normal that there's this debate, they're both very important players and everyone can give their opinion, but it's not going to influence me," said the Frenchman on Tuesday.

"The most important thing is that everyone is available and prepared for the game." 
- WIRE SERVICES

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