Bale out of Real’s match against Espanyol

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Gareth Bale has been left out of Real Madrid’s squad to face Espanyol on Sunday, with the Wales international nursing a calf complaint.

Bale endured an injury-plagued campaign last season and his performances have come in for criticism from sections of the Madrid support of late.

The 28-year-old offered an ideal response in midweek, when he opened the scoring in a 3-1 win at Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League.

But Bale was substituted five minutes before full-time at Signal Iduna Park having been seen feeling the back of his leg.

Head coach Zinedine Zidane told a pre-match news conference that Bale missed Saturday’s training session with a strain described as “a small problem” and said the forward would be assessed.

Ultimately, he has decided not to gamble on Bale’s fitness, with the former Tottenham star’s plight also of interest to Wales boss Chris Coleman, whose squad face pivotal World Cup qualifiers against Georgia and the Republic of Ireland over the next week eight days.

Real lies sixth after an underwhelming start to its LaLiga title defence, seven points shy of rivals Barcelona at the summit.

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