London — Tottenham Hotspur manager Jose Mourinho said on Wednesday that only Real Madrid can say why it took their on-loan forward Gareth Bale the best part of the Premier League season to hit his stride in London.

Bale rejoined Tottenham from Real on a season-long loan deal in September after falling out with French manager Zinedine Zidane and had to endure his worst season in Spain in 2019-20 with only three goals in all competitions as they won the league.

Mourinho was reluctant to trust Bale in league games, citing the 31-year-old’s injury issues and lack of match fitness after being frozen out in the final part of his spell in Spain.

Bale has responded with four goals in his last four games in all competitions, including a double against Burnley on Sunday and Mourinho responded to queries about what has spurred the forward back to action.

“Ask Madrid, maybe if they answer to you, you can understand why it took a while. Maybe to be patient was the main reason,” Mourinho told reporters ahead of Thursday’s meeting with 18th-placed Fulham.

Asked if Bale was ready to play, Mourinho said: “I think so. Starting or starting on the bench I don’t know. He is a very experienced player. Good reaction though [after the Burnley game].”

Midfielder Giovani Lo Celso is back training with the team but would not be risked after a serious hamstring injury.

“We’ll bring him to the team when he is OK. Maybe one or two more weeks. Everybody else [is] OK,” Mourinho added.

Spurs, who are chasing a top-four spot to seal qualification to next season’s Champions League, are eighth in the league with 39 points from 25 games.


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