Tottenham Hotspur forward Gareth Bale will be sidelined until early next month with the foot injury that has kept the Real Madrid target out of the Premier League club's preseason build-up, says manager Andre Villas-Boas.
The absence of Wales international Bale, the subject of a world record bid of more than a reported £85 million (HK$879.5 million) from Real, means he could have played his last game for Spurs if he joins Madrid.
Villas-Boas said the 24-year-old would not be fit until the league game at north London rivals Arsenal, which is scheduled to be played the day before the transfer window closes on September 2.
Bale will miss Tottenham's Premier League opener at promoted Crystal Palace on Sunday, the Europa League play-off first leg away to Georgian side Dinamo Tbilisi on Thursday and their first home league match of the season against Swansea City on August 25.
"For the games against Palace, Tbilisi and Swansea, he will not be in line to threaten to come back," Villas-Boas was quoted as saying by the British media yesterday.
Bale has not played since scoring in Tottenham's opening preseason friendly at Swindon Town on July 16. Since then he has suffered a hamstring injury and now a foot problem.
He joined up with the Wales squad for the international friendly against Ireland on Wednesday but was not fit to play.
"We will have to see how he returns from [international duty with] Wales and assess if the pain in his foot has stopped troubling his progress to return into first-team training," Villas-Boas said.
"Obviously he is very far off regarding his fitness compared to the others, so it will take some time to bring him back to the level that the others are after six weeks."
Regarding a move to Madrid, the Portuguese said ideally England's Footballer of the Year, who was third-top scorer in the league last season with 21 goals, would stay at Spurs.
"Our idea is to count on Gareth. I have told you lots and lots of times," Villas-Boas was quoted as saying.
"Speculation has arisen with the player because of the quality that he has and the season that he had, the amazing moments of individual brilliance.
"Ideally, we would like the player to continue belonging to Tottenham. We are aware that Real Madrid are interested. It doesn't mean that we are willing to negotiate."
"We explain to the clubs that have asked for him that the player is our player."