Wales boss Robert Page insists Gareth Bale will prove his fitness for the World Cup play-offs whether he is playing for Real Madrid or not.

Bale has made only three appearances for Real this term, his last coming on August 28, since returning from last season’s loan spell at Tottenham.

The 32-year-old forward, who is in the final year of his Real contract, has actually played more for Wales this season, with his last four appearances on international duty.

Real Madrid v Manchester City – UEFA Champions League – Round of 16 – First Leg – Santiago BernabeuFit-again Gareth Bale has made only three appearances for Real Madrid this season (Nick Potts/PA)

Bale suffered a hamstring injury in September and then picked up a calf complaint after winning his 100th Wales cap against Belarus last month, but he has returned to full training ahead of Sunday’s Madrid derby with Atletico.

Page, who is already planning for the March play-offs, said: “We have never had the luxury of Gareth being guaranteed time on the field at club level.

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“For me, it is not vitally important that he is playing at club level.

“It helps, of course it does. You want players to be playing their domestic football when they come into camp.

Wales v Greece – FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 – UEFA Qualifier – Group I – Parc y ScarletsWales manager Robert Page is confident Bale will be firing on all cylinders in the World Cup play-offs in March (Nick Potts/PA)

“But we have had this situation in the past with him and yet he’s come in, performed fantastically well, and we have won matches.”

Page’s comments on Bale are at odds with remarks he made after Wales secured home advantage in the play-offs by drawing with Belgium last month.

On that occasion he suggested Aaron Ramsey, Neco Williams and Joe Rodon needed game-time in club football and said he would “encourage them to go and play at their parent club or elsewhere” ahead of the January transfer window.

But on his skipper Bale, Page added: “World-class players set high standards for themselves and they make sure they are ready, whatever else might be going on.

“So, I am not overly concerned. Gareth is a fit lad and looks after himself extremely well.

“He will be ready to go in March. I know that, 100 per cent.”

Wales will discover next year’s Nations League opponents on Thursday.

England, world champions France and European Championship winners Italy are all potential League A opponents following Wales’ 2020 promotion into the top tier.

But Page says it is the World Cup that is focusing minds with Wales two games away from what would be only their second finals, and their since 1958.

Wales will be at home to Austria in the play-offs on March 24 with the winners hosting Scotland or Ukraine for a place in Qatar five days later.

“The players are all very positive about the draw and now we have got the two home games, which is great,” Page said.

“The work and the analysis has started. We will go through all the planning and detail for those matches.”

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