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Bale sidelined by kick to groin

ESPN staff
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Gareth Bale has completed just nine games for Real Madrid since his © Getty Images
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Gareth Bale is a doubt for Real Madrid's Copa del Rey quarter-final second leg at home to Espanyol on Tuesday after being kicked in the groin against Granada on Saturday.

Bale had an afternoon to forget during the routine 3-0 win over the Andalucians at the Bernabeu, suffering the painful collision after just eight minutes before being withdrawn at half-time by coach Carlo Ancelotti.

By that point, the former Tottenham winger had completed just 12 passes while giving away possession 13 times.

Ancelotti played down the issue during his post-game news conference while being deliberately vague about the area affected after the high tackle, which saw Jeison Murillo escape with a yellow card.

"[Bale] was replaced because he had a problem," Ancelotti said. "He was not comfortable after getting kicked, he had a problem with his left leg. It's not an injury, more of a nuisance and he will have no problems playing the next match."

Nevertheless the issue has raised further concerns in the Spanish capital about the £85.3million signing's durability, with Spanish sports daily AS noting that Bale has completed 90 minutes in just nine of the 30 competitive games since his arrival.

There is also concern that the latest fitness issue could lead to another prolonged absence, as happened when a supposedly trivial knock suffered in training led to three weeks on the sidelines on December.

There were groans and even whistles from fans inside the Bernabeu as promising moves regularly broke down when Bale became involved.

Many supporters and pundits have been calling for Ancelotti to play home-grown youngster Jese Rodriguez on the right wing, as he is more suited to the position and links better with teammates in open play.

However most appreciate that this is unlikely given the profile of the club's latest galactico and his status within the squad.

In spite of his difficulties since arriving in Spain, Bale's supporters can point to his 10 goals and eight assists during just 957 minutes of competitive action as evidence that when fit and 'comfortable' the Wales captain usually delivers.

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