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The PSG game is a golden opportunity for Gareth Bale to put the whole flag business behind him

It’s time to focus on the actual football

Training Real Madrid Photo by David S. Bustamante/Soccrates/Getty Images

Champions League football returns to the Bernabéu with the visit of PSG and the whole Gareth Bale-with-the-flag episode will quickly be forgotten it the result goes in Real Madrid's favour.

Having joined the game from the bench in the second half, Gareth has been involved in three matches in just over a week and it's been so far so good up until now.

As we all know, he didn’t get the best of receptions from the Bernabéu support on Saturday and although I don’t think for one minute that this came as a surprise to him, it’s certainly something that you don’t want to drag on for weeks on end.

If Gareth takes the field against PSG and he does well, then perhaps that will calm the emotions down a little; at least for the immediate future if nothing else.

And with Real Madrid looking to progress to the next stage of the Champions League, a focus on a good, solid, performance without any controversy will be the order of the night for Gareth.

Zinedine Zidane naked his squad as soon as the usual injury assessments had been completed and he'll be hoping that there will be no setbacks between now and kick-off time.

There didn't appear to be any significant concerns after the Real Sociedad game on Saturday night but often it's the next day when minor injuries reveal themselves.

With only a couple of days recovery time available between the two games it will have been a case of watching and waiting to see how everything unfolded and if there were any nagging doubts over injuries that may have needed the benefit of another 24 hours to respond to treatment.

Definitely not in the frame for PSG though are Lucas Vázquez with a broken toe in his left foot and James Rodríguez with an MCL sprain of the left knee.

These are in addition of course to Marco Asensio who remains on the longer-term injury list but is said to be making progress; often pictured working at several components of fitness in his individual rehabilitation programme.

Nacho Fernández trained with the full squad on Monday morning so clearly he’s on the way back to full fitness now but it remains to be seen whether he’ll be recalled for any of the forthcoming games or if Zidane will allow him some additional breathing space.

Sometimes I wonder if we give the managers and coaches who work with players on a daily basis enough credit when it comes to understanding injuries.

Tomás Roncero mentioned last week in AS Diarios that Zidane could see James’ injury coming and had kept him out of Real’s side the week before as he didn’t think James was fit enough at the time.

Even though James himself thought he would be fine, Zidane still felt that he would be susceptible to further injury if he played; hence leaving him out.

This won’t be the first time that players have self-declared their fitness only to be found wanting on their return or suffering a recurrence right away.

And while you can’t fault James’ enthusiasm or eagerness to return, sometimes players just have to be guided towards showing that extra bit of patience to increase their chances of coming back into the side at the correct time.

But when you get the national team coaches saying people will be playing even though they may not have had the chance to turn out for their clubs after recovering from injury, it becomes a different matter.

Most players who are desperate to get back on the field are going to jump at the chance; and then as they say, everything’s all right until it goes wrong.

James won’t be involved for a while so his situation is academic as far as Zidane’s team selections are concerned.

It’s looking as though he’ll be out for at least another couple of weeks, so the task will be to focus on getting over this knee injury and regaining his fitness.

As we said at the start of this article, Gareth Bale has now been involved in three matches since his injury and would therefore be considered to be fully available again.

If selected, he now needs to rise to the challenge and put the whole flag business behind him.

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