MADRID -- Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane has said he wants more from Gareth Bale as injuries and suspensions bite ahead of the visit to Real Sociedad on Sunday.
After a poor start to the campaign, with just one goal in his first five games, Bale was whistled by Madrid fans during home draws against both Levante and Valencia.
With pundits calling this the worst spell since Bale arrived from Tottenham for €101 million in 2013, the Wales international called for "calm" on Friday.
Zidane also called for patience at a news conference on Saturday and argued that, after injuries last season, it will take time for Bale to return to top form.
"Lately the questions are all about Gareth, but each day he feels better," he said. "He had four months out of the team, and to return to his best level he will need four more months at least. We must give him time, and we are happy with him.
"The price puts you up there, you cannot do anything about that, it happened to me when I found it tough in my first months after I came here.
"If Gareth scores twice tomorrow, everyone will be happy. I hope he does and we change what people are thinking about Gareth.
"We want more from him on the pitch, he does too, but he will be very good very soon, for sure."
Bale will be the only member of the "BBC" strikeforce available on Sunday, with Madrid missing the suspended Cristiano Ronaldo and the injured Karim Benzema.
"Gareth will play his own role," Zidane said. "We must not think that Gareth must step up without Karim and Cristiano.
"We have many players who can make the difference, each day it is someone else. The pressure does not affect him."
Zidane's selection problems have heightened, with Toni Kroos and Jesus Vallejo missing training on Saturday and joining Benzema and Mateo Kovacic on the injured list.
"We cannot count on someone who does not train the day before the game, and that has happened with Jesus and Toni," Zidane added.
"Their problems are not too serious, but we never take risks. It is inevitable that there are moments with injuries and suspensions over a season.
"So we must be patient at the moment, but tomorrow we will send out a very good team, and with good players on the bench too."
Zidane said that after the two recent draws it was important not to drop more points against a La Real side alongside Barcelona at the top of the early standings.
"It is an important game after losing four points, and we are playing at the home of the co-leader," Zidane said.
"But the negative results will not change anything about what we want to do. We have not done so bad until now. It is good to say this sometimes.
"It seems people think we are playing badly. But we are doing well."