Gareth Bale is set to miss the next three weeks in a bid to be fit for the season's first Clasico.

The Welshman has started just one of the five games Real Madrid have played since his arrival and been on the pitch for just 132 minutes in total. He is still waiting to start his first home game.

Wednesday's Champions League meeting with Copenhagen was to give him that first home start but a thigh problem keeps him out and Real Madrid are now so concerned they want him to take three weeks to get back his fitness and play against Barcelona on October 26.

Bale was diagnosed with a muscle contracture in his left thigh

The club are desperate to avoid a repeat of the Jonathan Woodgate fiasco when they signed the defender injured rushed him back and never saw him fully fit.

Bale's injury problems are not considered as serious as those that hampered Woodgate's career but there is a feeling he should never have played 60 minutes away to Villarreal having only spent three days training with his team-mates.

Bale will not play in this weekend's visit to Levante and Real Madrid will then insist he does not join up with Wales for the next round of international matches.

They also want him to sit out the first game back after the international break to give options of playing some part in the Clasico.