Gareth Bale: Real Madrid forward 'looking forward' to Wales return
Wales assistant Osian Roberts says Gareth Bale is looking forward to playing against Ireland on 24 March after recovering from ankle surgery.
Bale made his return for club side Real Madrid in their 2-0 win over Espanyol as a 71st minute substitute and scored within 12 minutes of his return.
The 27-year old has been out since suffering the injury on 22 November.
"He's now confident he'll be in the team and ready to fight for his place," Roberts told BBC Radio Cymru.
Roberts and Wales manager Chris Coleman travelled to Madrid this week to meet with Bale and watch him train and were impressed with what they saw.
"He's coming along very well, he's in a good place both physically and mentally," Roberts said.
"He's been working extremely hard. He was in a good mood, we watched him train and he looked very good physically and fresh of course.
"We're expecting him to carefully build up his minutes under the manager [Zinedine Zidane] and Gareth will be ready to join up with us next month."
Nature and hard work
Initial assessments on Bale's injury indicated that Madrid's record signing would possibly struggle to be fit for the vital World Cup qualifier in Dublin.
His recovery time has been roughly six weeks quicker than initial estimates and Roberts puts it down to hard work.
"Nature might play a part [in Bale's ability to quickly recover from injuries] but I prefer to believe in the hard work he gets through," he explained.
"We see Gareth when scores goals for Wales and Real Madrid and amazing things on the field but what most people do not see is the hard work he puts in behind closed doors, in private, that gives him a base so he can make the most of the special talent he has.
"One of the main reasons for that is because he's well-disciplined he's happy to sacrifice some things in life to make sure he makes most of his talent.
"He does not go out, he does not drink alcohol, he's incredibly professional and he's been working for weeks on end - getting into the club for 9am every morning and does not leave until 8pm at night.
"His days have been longer whilst he has been injured than when he was fit and playing. The hard work which he's put in for weeks now and it's understandable how he's more than ready to get back into the team."
'In theory there will be no setbacks'
Roberts does not expect any setbacks for the talisman who helped Wales to the semi finals of Euro 2016, but admits that will always be a concern.
"A member of the club's medical staff also works with us [Wales], talking to him they've been careful and done what is right for Gareth and what is right for the long-term so in theory there will be no setbacks," he said.
"We're crossing our fingers that there will not be any set-backs. We see with players coming back from injuries we've seen it with Manchester City's star Vincent Kompany this season.
"There is nothing sadder for me than to see a player who is coming back from injury and gets injured straight away afterwards. It's mentally difficult for players to take.
"We're crossing our fingers that Gareth Bale can carry on so he can get to enjoying his football again".