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Bale makes early return to training

Gareth Bale has returned to group training at Real Madrid for the first time as he nears recovery from the ankle injury that has kept him sidelined for three months.

Wales star Bale has been out of action since Madrid's 2-1 win over Sporting CP in the Champions League group stage in November, when he suffered ankle tendon damage that required surgery.

The club's official Twitter account posted a picture of Bale training with the first-team group ahead of the club's Champions League last-16 clash against Napoli on Wednesday, despite head coach Zinedine Zidane previously targeting a return for Bale in the second leg of that tie.

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Bale has scored twice in his five Champions League appearances this season.