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Dec 7, 2019 at 12pm UK at ​Estadio Santiago Bernabéu (Madrid)
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Real Madrid
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Zidane: 'I won't stop Gareth Bale playing golf'

Zidane: 'I won't stop Gareth Bale playing golf'
© Reuters
The Welshman has been dubbed 'The Golfer' by his teammates at the Bernabeu.

Zinedine Zidane says he will not stop Wales star Gareth Bale from playing golf in his spare time.

Bale – who will miss Real Madrid's LaLiga home match with Espanyol on Saturday through injury – admits playing golf is his passion and that his team-mates have nicknamed him 'The Golfer'.

Wales are set to prevent Bale from playing golf during Euro 2020 next summer, with manager Ryan Giggs insisting the players' focus must be on football and not other activities.

Real Madrid v Liverpool – UEFA Champions League – Final – NSK Olimpiyskiy Stadium
Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane says he will not stop Gareth Bale from playing golf in his spare time (Nick Potts/PA)

And Zidane was asked at his pre-match press conference whether Real would follow suit and stop Bale from spending time on the golf course when he is in Spain.

"I'm going to give you my reply, the club might say something different," Real manager Zidane said.

"I'm not going to stop any of my players from doing anything in their free time.

"They are older and each one knows what he has to do."

Bale started his first club game since October 5 last weekend as Real won 2-1 at Alaves.

In that time wBale, who was troubled by a calf injury, started four games for Wales as the Dragons secured Euro 2020 qualification.

Bale has now suffered a fresh fitness blow, his latest injury coming after the player's agent Jonathan Barnett said his client – who has had a difficult relationship with Zidane – is "not ecstatic" at the club.

"It (the injury) occurred in the Alaves match," Zidane said.

"We had two and a half days of rest and on the way back he suffered.

"That's why he hasn't trained with us. He did a little bit of training (on Friday), but not with us."

Eden Hazard is set for a spell on the sidelines after damaging his ankle in a recent Champions League game against Paris St Germain.

Zidane said Hazard's injury was "more serious than expected" and he will be out until the new year.

Real trail leaders Barcelona on goal difference after taking 13 points from their last five league games.

"The important thing is to be good all season – from beginning to end," Zidane said.

"What we intended was to start well and continue this way until the end.

"The stretch until Christmas is very important for us."

Espanyol have lost four of their last five games, picking up only one point in a home draw with Getafe.

Belgium v Scotland – UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifying – Group I – King Baudouin Stadium
Belgium's Eden Hazard has been ruled out of action for Real Madrid until the new year (Bradley Collyer/PA)

It is a run which has left them one place off the bottom of the five table and five points from safety.

"I hope that things cannot get any worse – otherwise we're going to have a hard time of it," Espanyol head coach Pablo Machin said after the 4-2 home defeat to Osasuna last weekend.

"We can't keep being so vulnerable, at the moment we're handing opportunities to our opponents on a plate, and we can't compete like that.

"We have to lift our heads up, keep working together, recognise what's gone wrong and keep working hard at the things we got right.

"I'm the last person to give up and jump ship. We will take this team forward, I'm sure of it."

Espanyol will be without Victor Sanchez at the Bernabeu after the midfielder suffered a knee injury against Osasuna.

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Gareth Bale during a Wales training session on October 12, 2019
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