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Gareth Bale fears he will not be fit to feature in Champions League final

• Real Madrid winger has not played since late April following ankle surgery
• ‘Starting would be difficult’ he says about facing Juventus in Cardiff

Gareth Bale fought through the pain, obliged to take pills to get him through training and matches, but he concedes that the Champions League final in his home city might still have come to soon for him to start. Real Madrid’s Cardiff-born forward admitted that he returned too soon after surgery on an ankle ligament injury sustained in November and that he is not yet fully fit. He said that he was prepared to play a substitute’s role in Saturday’s match with Juventus at the Millennium Stadium, after six months of suffering.

Bale’s ligament came away from his right ankle during a Champions League clash with Sporting Lisbon in November and although he came back to action to score on his return against Espanyol 88 days later, he was still struggling with the effects of the operation, even though calf problems were cited as the immediate cause. Bale admits that he may have returned too soon and he was forced to withdraw in the first half of the clasico on 23 April. The 27-year-old has not played since, although he is in full training with team-mates as he works towards Cardiff.

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