ESPN FC: Premier League power shift?
Tottenham Hotspur head coach Andre Villas-Boas has confirmed Gareth Bale will play no part in the season opener against Crystal Palace.
Bale, a key transfer target for Real Madrid, has missed most of Spurs' pre-season friendlies with what have been described as “niggling injuries”, and he also sat out Wales' 0-0 friendly draw with Republic of Ireland.
Spurs begin their Premier League campaign on Sunday at Selhurst Park, but Bale, who scored 26 goals for the club in all competitions last year, will play no part.
When asked if Bale featured in his plans for Sunday, Villas-Boas said: "No, because he's been out injured for most of pre-season.
"He was involved in the games against Brentford and Swindon but not any others, for different reasons. He 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.
"I think the most natural thing is to see him not involved against Palace."
Spurs captain Michael Dawson, meanwhile, said the players have not been distracted by the persistent speculation over Bale’s future.
"As players, you concentrate on what you are doing on a daily basis and that's all you can do," Dawson told Sky Sports News. “Gareth is a top player -- the season he had last year, he is going to attract speculation. The manager has said he's staying, the chairman has also, so for us as players we can't concentrate on that. We just keep our heads down and as a team work hard."