Knee injury keeps Bale from facing old club Saints

Knee injury keeps Bale from facing old club Saints

LONDON • Gareth Bale will not make a fairy-tale double homecoming at Southampton today, with the forward not expected to make his second Tottenham Hotspur debut until next month.

The Telegraph reported his medical test revealed he has a minor knee injury and would likely make his Premier League bow against West Ham United only on Oct 17.

The injury is not expected to affect the completion of his loan deal, with Spurs paying £220,000 (S$386,500) of his £600,000-a-week Real Madrid wages.

As the 31-year-old did not have a pre-season with the La Liga champions and has been restricted to limited minutes in recent years, Spurs had already factored in the possibility that it could take Bale up to four weeks to be match ready.

Bale broke into Southampton’s first team in 2006, then starred for Spurs, earning him a world-record €100 million (S$161 million) move to Real in 2013.

Jose Mourinho will be hoping Bale can carry some of Harry Kane’s scoring burden after failing to sign Saints striker Danny Ings.

The Spurs manager will instead have to devise a plan to stop Ings, Saints’ top scorer with 25 goals in all competitions last season, when his side visit St Mary’s today.

“Ings is a threat,” Mourinho said of the match-winner when the sides met in this fixture last season. “He is a player that scores a lot of goals. Every time he plays against us, he gives us a lot of problems. He is a player we have to respect.”

There are other subplots in the latest meeting, with former Saints captain Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Spurs defender Kyle Walker-Peters set to face their old clubs.

Southampton boss Ralph Hasenhuttl said Walker-Peters, 23, is eager to adjust to a new style of play.

“I think he has shown here that he is on the ball a very, very good right-back,” said Hasenhuttl. “We have a different way of defending (to Spurs), more on the front foot… in the beginning he struggled a little bit. But… he has made good progress so far.”

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