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Bale needs time to hit top form, Coleman says

The 24-year-old became the world's most expensive footballer when he completed a reported £85.3 million move from Tottenham in September.

But the Wales international has been plagued by a thigh injury since switching to the Spanish capital, while his new club were also forced to release a statement earlier this week denying reports he had suffered a slipped disc.

Bale's injury has seen him restricted to just three appearances for Carlo Ancelotti's side, while the problem also saw him miss his country's 1-0 FIFA World Cup qualifying win over Macedonia on Friday.

He will also sit out Tuesday's encounter with Belgium, and Coleman feels it is important for Real to be patient with Bale as he attempts to regain full fitness.

"I wouldn't be surprised if it is not until after Christmas until we see Gareth properly again," Coleman commented.

"The last camp we were at here I took a lot of criticism for not playing Bale but he had had no pre-season training.

"If you don't have a pre-season and you expect to start and finish in a game, you are crackers - it doesn't happen.

"And if you think you are going to pick up where you were the season before - it's not going to happen.

"It takes time and it doesn't matter how good you are, and Gareth is a super player and a super athlete, you are not going to switch it on or off.

"If you have missed all that pre-season you are always playing catch up and it may take Gareth some time before we see what he is capable of, especially with the extra pressure and the new environment which he has got to get used to."