Gareth Bale has returned to Real Madrid training, but Zinedine Zidane, the head coach said the Wales forward will start competitive match after two months without a game.
The 28-year-old had been out with a calf injury and missed the final games of his country’s unsuccessful World Cup qualifying campaign.
He returned to training in early November, but suffered a thigh injury.
Zidane said: “I don’t know when he will play. He feels good and today he trained without any pain.”
Bale has not played since the 3-1 Champions League win at Borussia Dortmund on 26 September.
He has been criticised by the domestic press for missing so many games through injury – over 70 according to AS and Marca – since his £85m move from Tottenham in 2013.
“The important thing is that he is with us, that he trains, plays, because that will stop all the negative things happening around him,” Zidane said.
“We know what he can bring to us. He is strong, powerful, very good technically and he works hard. When he has played he has always done well.”
Bale has scored 70 goals in 159 appearances for Real, winning three Champions League titles and last season’s La Liga.
“A lot is spoken about his injuries, but he is an important player for us. He knows that, I know that and everyone does,” Zidane said.
Meanwhile, Real have confirmed attacking midfielder Marco Asensio has an “external obturator injury on the right leg” but have not given any more details.