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What will Bale, Kovacic and Navas bring to the table when they return?

Mateo Kovačić, Gareth Bale and Keylor Navas are all set to return to full training.

FC Barcelona v Real Madrid - Supercopa de Espana: 1st Leg Photo by Manuel Queimadelos Alonso/Getty Images

It will be such a boost when Real Madrid’s injured trio of Mateo Kovačić, Gareth Bale and Keylor Navas all return to full training proper at some stage this week or early next.

According to Zinedine Zidane as reported earlier this week in AS, the three players who have been out injured are all set to make a return in the very near future.

Keylor and Mateo trained on Thursday; Gareth didn’t but isn’t thought to be too be far away from re-joining the others in the full squad.

Hopefully they won’t suffer any adverse reaction to this. They’ve all been working away at their respective programmes and it appears that the time for their return is now imminent.

It’s been a long wait for Madrid’s injured stars. Mateo Kovačić was injured over two months ago when Real played Apoel in September; while Keylor Navas picked up his injury playing for Costa Rica in October.

Gareth’s original calf injury and subsequent adductor strain on top of that have all been well discussed. It appears that in the present situation, his recent problems are now drawing to a close.

All being well, Zidane will have some more players at his disposal as Real Madrid enter a busy period which ends with the ‘Clásico’ in December.

The league programme continues this weekend with the visit of Málaga to the Bernabéu. Despite beating Deportivo La Coruña in their previous match, Málaga coach Míchel will be feeling a bit of pressure at the moment due to some poor results.

The last time Real Madrid played Málaga was a couple of weeks before the Champions League final in Cardiff. On that occasion, Real beat Málaga away from home to clinch the league title and a season’s work came to fruition for Zidane et al.

Real went into that game three-points clear of rivals Barcelona; but the drawback then was that the Catalan side had the advantage in the decisive head-to-head which would be used as tie-breaker if Real lost and Barça won on the night.

As we remember, the conspiracy theories were being aired in the days leading up to the match; mainly because Málaga coach Míchel was a former Real Madrid player and had indicated that he would much rather see Real finish the season as Champions than Barça.

A natural view to express from someone who remains a Madridista at heart! But it didn’t go down well with the Catalan press. The suggestions quickly followed that Málaga would make it easy for Real Madrid on the day.

They didn’t of course - as if anyone ever really expected them to - and in Míchel’s present situation the Andalucían side are unlikely to do so this weekend either.

They’ll be coming to the Bernabéu hoping for a result; but unsure exactly of which starting eleven they’ll have to face if Zinedine Zidane finds that he now has a few more options to consider.

If all goes well over the next 48 – 72 hours and the injured trio do actually return to training as indicated, does Zidane then push the returning pair of Mateo Kovačić and Keylor Navas hard in training and assess their reactions before Saturday?

Or does he begin to re-introduce them slowly one at a time or wait and use both in the second leg of the Copa del Rey against Fuenlabrada on Tuesday?

He’ll also have an eye on the following week when Real travel to Bilbao to face Athletic Club followed by the visit of Dortmund to the Bernabéu afterwards; so perhaps that will be the time to be looking for Gareth Bale to return.

With four homes out of the next five when you include the Sevilla match on the 9th December, priority will need to be given to planning. The timing of the injured players’ return will require careful thought.

Provided the results go ok for Real Madrid in the matches leading up to Sevilla and no further injuries are sustained, then the league title is still on despite the points difference at the moment.

As we know, the ‘Clásico’ is set for the 23rd December, and with that being yet another home game Real could well have narrowed the gap at the top even more.

But the FIFA Club World Cup in the United Arab Emirates which falls between the Sevilla and Barça games could well be the time when all the planning and preparations really are put to the test.

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