Real Madrid's Gareth Bale returns to training after back injury

Real Madrid winger Gareth Bale returned to training on Thursday as the club prepare for their La Liga match against Ray Vallecano on Saturday.

Bale sat out Wednesday's 3-0 win over Villarreal with back pain amid media reports in Spain that he had injured himself playing golf on Sunday.

But a club statement said that Bale had rejoined the group and included photos of the Wales international training and suggested that he may be ready to play the next league match.

"Gareth Bale rejoined the group and undertook running and shooting exercises alone before finishing the session with the rest of his teammates. Real Madrid Castilla players Borja Mayoral, Martin Odegaard and Marcos Llorente also took part in the session," the statement said.

With the victory over Villarreal, Madrid stay third in the Primera Division table on 78 points, one behind leaders Barcelona and second-placed Atletico.

Wednesday's match saw striker Cristiano Ronaldo suffer an injury scare, although the Portuguese international sent an encouraging message via Instagram to his fans on Thursday, saying: "All good. Thanks for your support."

Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane on Tuesday dismissed any relationship to the 26-year-old's back injury and his Sunday outing to accompany golfer Sergio Garcia at the Open de Espana.

"I don't know whether he played golf or not, but I don't think he did," Zidane told reporters. "He has an over-use injury in his lower back. I can't tell you exactly what it is because I am not a doctor."

Bale has reached 16 goals for the first time in a La Liga season after Real Madrid's 5-1 win over Getafe on Saturday.

Bale made no secret of his visit to Valderrama, posting pictures on his Twitter feed and sending messages of support to Garcia. He followed the tournament action from the gallery.