Gareth Bale debut for Tottenham (x2) could happen this weekend.
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Bale, 31, has spent the last few weeks training with Tottenham after his sensational loan move from Real Madrid in the summer.
The Welshman was nursing a knee injury when he signed for Spurs but speaking to our partners Sky Sports in the UK, Mourinho was keeping tight-lipped about the availability of Bale for their clash against West Ham United (watch live, 11:30am ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) on Sunday.
“Gareth is here to help the team but we also care about him. The decisions we make will be for the good of the team but also for his own good,” Mourinho said. “It is very, very important that he has a happy season with us. I think in this moment of his career that is very, very important for him.”
Reading between the lines: Gareth Bale will be on the bench this weekend, at best.
He has been training with Mourinho during the international break as he stayed at Tottenham and didn’t go away with Wales. On Thursday Bale was seen smiling as he trained with Heung-min Son and Harry Kane and that trio will no doubt be Tottenham’s first-choice attacking unit for this season, and possibly beyond.
With Carlos Vinicius, Erik Lamela, Steven Bergwijn and Giovani Lo Celso also attacking options, there is no need to rush Bale back. But Tottenham’s fans, and neutrals, want to see him back in a Tottenham shirt as much as possible for as soon as possible.
Given his recent history with consistent injuries, Mourinho must play this smart and ease Bale in. He knows this and these comments suggest he will be very careful with Bale. With Tottenham’s attack firing on all cylinders, there’s no need to push Bale to his limits. At least not now.
That should wait until the end of the season when Tottenham hope to be in the title conversation (top four at the very least) and progressing in the other three cup competitions.