Real Madrid's Welsh forward Gareth Bale
Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane believes he has no need to rush Gareth Bale back from a long-term ankle injury as the European champions extended their lead at the top of La Liga on Sunday.
Madrid saw off Real Sociedad 3-0 thanks to goals from Mateo Kovacic, Cristiano Ronaldo and Alvaro Morata to open up a four-point lead on Barcelona and Sevilla and with a game in hand over their title rivals to come.
Bale has been out since suffering ankle ligament damage in November and is not expected to return before March.
However, Zidane is hopeful of having Luka Modric and James Rodriguez back for Real's next outing at Celta Vigo at the weekend.
"Our idea to is to have Luka back next week. We will see (how he is) on Tuesday and the same goes for James," said Zidane.
"Gareth will take a while longer. He is now on the training pitch in boots which is a good sign, but we have to take it slowly."
Bale is expected to miss Real's Champions League last 16, first leg clash with Napoli on February 15 with the Welshman possibly making a return in time for the return leg on March 7.
Madrid had begun to miss the Welshman's presence as they won just one of their five previous games before Sociedad's visit.
That run included elimination at the hands of Celta Vigo in the Copa del Rey quarter-finals, but Zidane admitted missing out on two more matches in the semi-finals over the next fortnight could ultimately prove a blessing for his injury hit squad.
"It is what it is. We can't think about the Cup any more because we are out," he added.
"We would have preferred to still be in it, but we have to think positively and we are going to have a full week to prepare first for La Liga and then the Champions League."
Madrid enjoyed a dream weekend as all of their title rivals slipped up.
Barca were held 1-1 at Real Betis, whilst Sevilla were reduced to 10 men after just two minutes in losing 3-1 at Espanyol on Sunday.
"It gives you more motivation when you see your rivals slip up," added Zidane.
"It gives you even more desire to do well. We were watching the games all day.
"The most important thing, though, is what we do and we can be happy with our performance.
"We got three goals and three more points."
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