Wales boost as Bale returns to training
Gareth Bale's chances of figuring in Wales' World Cup qualifier against Ireland in March will be tested when he returns to light training this week in his bid to shake off an ankle problem.
The Real Madrid star suffered a "traumatic dislocation of the peroneal tendons" during a Champions League encounter with Sporting Lisbon in November.
He underwent treatment in London and early reports from Spain indicated he could be out until April.
But Madrid are aiming to get one of their main men back in peak condition for the business end of their season and that would be good news for Wales who have always expressed confidence that their star would be available for March 24 in Dublin.
He is not expected to work with a ball until next month with light training on the agenda this week with Madrid taking a cautious approach.
They do not anticipate he will be available for their Champions League round-of-16 first-leg encounter with Napoli in mid-February.
And that safety-first approach would please Welsh boss Chris Coleman given that any kind of setback for the 27-year-old would likely rule him out of the crucial Dublin encounter with Martin O'Neill's Group D leaders.