Gareth Bale on track to return for Ireland vs Wales

Real Madrid winger has returned to training

Wales, Gareth Bale

Wales' Gareth Bale. Picture by Martin Rickett PA Wire/PA Images

Gareth Bale has returned to Real Madrid training and the Wales international is expected to be back in action in time for the 2018 World Cup qualifier with Ireland in March.

Bale had suffered an ankle injury on Champions League duty for his club in November and had appeared increasingly doubtful for the March 24th qualifier at the Aviva Stadium.

His absence would have been a boost for Martin O'Neill's Ireland with the Boys in Green currently top of Group D, four points clear of third placed Wales.

Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane however confirmed that Bale is back in training with the Spanish giants and that he is expected to return to match action some time early next month.

"I hope that Bale is back with us before the return leg against Napoli. He still has to return to team training, which is the most important thing," said Zidane.

The Champions League return leg against Napoli is due to take place on March 7th, just under three weeks before Wales come to Dublin.

Bale confirmed his own training return on Twitter: 

The 27 year old winger is Wales' leading player and had a key role in helping his nation to a surprise semi final run at Euro 2016.

Bale scored in all three Euro 2016 group games against England, Russia and Slovakia.

He has also played a crucial role for Wales in the World Cup qualifiers, scoring four goals in matches against Moldova, Georgia and Serbia.