Real Madrid winger Gareth Bale has been ruled out for two to three weeks today by manager, Rafael Benitez.
The Spaniard - now an interim only in spirit rather than by name, since departing Chelsea and joining Real Madrid - confirmed Bale's absence in a press conference, citing a calf injury.
Bale limped off during Real Madrid's 4-0 victory over Shakhtar Donetsk on Tuesday night. The victory was an impressive one for Los Blancos' bow in this year's competition, as Cristiano Ronaldo netted a hat-trick, taking his all-time European tally to 80 goals.
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Ronaldo has now scored eight times in two games to lead arch-rival, Lionel Messi, in the Champions League goalscoring charts.
Benitez seems to be resigned to Bale's absence in the short-term, but soothed the fears of Welsh fans and is quoted by the BBC as saying: "It is a small injury and it appears he recovers quickly."
This suggests that the ex-Tottenham Hotspur man should be fit for Wales' crucial Euro 2016 qualifiers next month. Wales will take on Bosnia-Herzegovina and Andorra, where they will hope to be able to summon the efforts of Gareth Bale, scorer of six of his nation's nine goals in this qualifying campaign.
Wales will need just one further point to qualify for Euro 2016, which would be their first major tournament since the 1958 World Cup.
Benitez said he was "optimistic" of Bale's chances. He will be disappointed to lose Bale for any period of time, though.
Bale was coveted by a host of clubs this summer, with Louis van Gaal a chief admirer of the Welshman. Manchester United were rebuked in no uncertain terms for their efforts to land the winger.
This is because Rafa Benitez seems to have built his Real Madrid side around Bale, with a view to moulding Bale as Cristiano Ronaldo's long-term successor.
Ronaldo is clearly still at the very top level as a footballer, but Benitez - having tried to retire John Terry and Frank Lampard during his time at Stamford Bridge - is no stranger to jettisoning talent prematurely, and he now seems fixed on promoting Gareth Bale.
On this basis, this calf injury will frustrate Benitez. Bale, however, will hope to recover quickly.
Can Gareth Bale be Cristiano Ronaldo's long-term successor? Have your say in the comments section below!
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