Roy Keane says he is beginning to wonder whether Jose Mourinho actually wanted Gareth Bale to return to Tottenham after the Real Madrid loanee was again named among the substitutes against Sheffield United.
Bale has started just one Premier League game this season and has made 12 appearances in all competitions.
The Welshman has struggled with niggling injuries since his return but having been named on the bench once more, questions have been raised over his role at the club.
A recent dressing down of Bale – picked up by Spurs TV – won’t have helped matters, with Mourinho heard saying: “You want to stay here? Or go to Real Madrid and play no football?”
Prior to Spurs’ game against Sheffield United, Sky Sports pundits Graeme Souness and Roy Keane were discussing the predicament.
“It’s strange that he’s involved, on the bench, suggesting he’s OK,” said Souness. “OK [he] can’t truly be match fit but good for 15 minutes, half an hour.
“Start him, give him 45 minutes. There’s not attempt to get him match fit.”
Keane then added his own theory and said: “I start to worry if Mourinho really wanted him, whether it was the chairman that brought him in because…not to be given many minutes.
Speaking about Bale recently, Mourinho said he still hopes to see the best of the forward.
“Of course he arrived injured and he was injured for the first month,” said the Spurs boss.
“Then step by step, the Europa League matches were helping him to get his condition.
“In the Premier League he has not played many minutes and then another small injury at Stoke where he was having a good first half.
“He’s now coming back, it’s not an easy process. Everybody knows the past couple of seasons at Real Madrid were not easy for him.
“But let’s go step by step and try to get the best out of him.”