Jose Mourinho says Gareth Bale will start Tottenham’s next match against Ludogorets in the Europa League but isn’t yet ready to play 90 minutes in the Premier League.
Bale scored the first goal of his second spell with Spurs on Sunday, coming off the bench and bagging the winner in a 2-1 victory over Brighton.
Harry Kane had given the hosts an early lead from the penalty spot before Brighton controversially drew level through Tariq Lamptey – Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg appeared to be fouled in the build-up but the goal stood.
Tottenham reacted well to the setback and eventually equalised through Bale, who headed home from a pinpoint Sergio Reguilon cross.
The Welshman has only featured in short bursts since returning on loan from Real Madrid, owing to a knee injury and a lack of match fitness, but his cameo on Sunday proved he is getting closer to full sharpness.
That said, Mourinho thinks Bale isn’t quite ready to play a full Premier League game – though the 31-year-old has been confirmed as a starter against Ludogorets.
“He doesn’t have 90 minutes of a Premier League match in his legs yet so we’re using the Europa League to complement his training process,” Mourinho said in his press conference after the Brighton game (via Football London). “We are using some matches in the Premier League when we decide to play him and the normal tendency for him will be of course to be better and better and better.
“That’s it. He will start again on Thursday and even in a Europa League match when the intensity is different to the Premier League I will not play him for 90 minutes. I always will have this care with him until we feel that he’s ready.”
Hopefully Bale can get a full 90 minutes under his belt on Thursday to increase his chances of starting in the Premier League sooner rather than later.