'He's been out injured for most of pre-season,' Andre Villas-Boas said simply when addressing media questions as to whether Gareth Bale, subject to £81m transfer speculation from Real Madrid, would feature in Tottenham Hotspur's Premier League season opener against Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park on Sunday, August 18.
He continued: 'He was involved in the game against Swindon but not any others, for different reasons; pulled a muscle in his gluteus that prevented him from being involved for two weeks and he's been complaining of pain in the foot.'
Bale's last appearance in a Lilywhite jersey was on July 16, a friendly encounter in which he scored, however, he has since remained silent while his name dominates the summer transfer headlines. Thus far, Spurs have been firm on their stance - and their valuation - of a player who thrilled his peers, sports writers and football fans with a series of impeccable highlight-laden performances last season.
'I think the most natural thing is to see him not involved against Palace,' AVB concluded.
While Bale will be a notable omission for the club's opening fixture in the upcoming football calendar, the club were nurturing a youngster with a potentially big upside last year. A player who is competent in dead-ball situations, can play as a forward or on the left wing, is confident striking - and scoring - from distance and was threatening to carve out a niche as a supersub. That player, Gylfi Sigurdsson, should also be fresh having enjoyed a solid pre-season.
Tottenham's activity in the summer market also saw them recruit Nacer Chadli, a 24-year-old Belgium imported from FC Twente. The tall winger made his first appearance for the club in early August and enjoyed a starting role against Espanyol last week.
Both players would be looking to make a statement against Palace.
image: © Jan S0L0