Bernabeu boss Zidane's boost for outcast Bale
Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane has described Gareth Bale as "ready to play" and a player he is going to "count on".
Zidane succeeded sacked Santiago Solari on Monday, less than 10 months after stepping down as manager. The first game of the Frenchman's second spell in charge is today's LaLiga clash at the Bernabeu with Celta Vigo.
The final match of his previous stint was last season's Champions League final against Liverpool, which saw him guide Real to the trophy for a third successive year. Bale was left out of the starting line-up for that decider before coming on and scoring twice, including a spectacular overhead kick.
While Zidane's return has been seen as casting major doubt over the player's future, the Welshman's agent Jonathan Barnett insists Bale is "very happy at the moment", adding: "He wants to play all his career for Real Madrid and if it does not work out, we will talk again.
"He will talk with Mr Zidane, take it from there and then see at the end of the season."
Zidane said yesterday: "I'm not going to speak about Bale's season up to this point. There are 11 matches left to play and I'm going to count on him. Gareth is ready to play."
Bale, 29, was not involved in last Sunday's 4-1 win at Real Valladolid having ended the match before, the 4-1 Champions League last-16 second-leg loss to Ajax, with an ankle injury. Bale, who has 13 goals this season, was jeered by some Real fans during the 1-0 loss to Barcelona on March 2.
Zidane was also asked about Paris St Germain duo Neymar and Kylian Mbappe and added: "These two players have a lot of quality."
Real lie third, 12 points behind leaders Barcelona.