Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane insists Gareth Bale remains a valued member of his squad despite admitting to doubts over the forward’s durability.
Wales star Bale has only started one of Madrid’s last four competitive fixtures as speculation continues to surround his long-term future, with Manchester United often linked with signing him.
The 28-year-old, who has battled persistent calf and thigh problems this season, did complete 73 minutes in last weekend’s win at Real Betis, before being relegated back to the bench for the midweek trip to Leganes.
However, Zidane insists the former Tottenham man still has a part to play.
“He is an important player. He will always be an important player,” Zidane told reporters on Friday.
“He is training hard, working hard like the rest of my players.
“I want to see Gareth at 100 per cent. I do not want him to get injured again.
“We have got many games coming up and… I am sure Gareth will have an important part to play.
“Hopefully he will not get injured but you have got to be in tip top shape if you want to play every game.”
Los Blancos are on a six-game unbeaten run in LaLiga heading into Saturday’s visit from Alaves, scoring 26 goals in the process.
And Zidane praised his players for turning around their form after a terrible start to their title defence.
“I am proud of the team. Even when things have not quite gone to plan we have shown strong character,” he said.
“It is an impressive tally to have scored 26 goals in six games. We want to maintain this good run of form.”