The news that Gareth Bale was expected to be out for up to four months after picking up an injury in November was met with skepticism by many Ireland fans.
At that timescale, he would have been expected to be fit right in time for Ireland's crucial World Cup qualifier at home to Wales, and while you'd never wish any injury on someone, having the Real Madrid man absent through injury would unquestionably be a big boost for Martin O'Neill's men.. Or any country in the world really.
However, having undergone surgery on his ankle successfully there is a new timeline for his recovery, with Real Madrid expecting to have him back in April according to reports that emerged in Spain today.
@GarethBale11 no podrá jugar con el @realmadrid hasta abril del 2017 https://t.co/xZUN8bU5wZ pic.twitter.com/kq1kjxU8LT
— Sólo ⚽ Fútbol (@SoloFutbolPlus) December 1, 2016
Črnoglede napovedi po operaciji @GarethBale11: Valižan nared šele aprila? https://t.co/EdziV72L6s #ligaprvakov #LaLigaSantander
— ŠPORT 24UR (@Sport24ur) December 1, 2016
Real Madrid: Gareth Bale no jugará hasta abril https://t.co/K1HHgGbnGS #Deportes
— Mi Diario (@midiario) December 1, 2016
Gareth Bale expected to be out of action until April which means he will miss Ireland's game against Wales in Dublin.
— Luke Edwards (@LukeEdwardsTele) December 1, 2016
New reports from Spain saying Gareth Bale will be out until April - would put him out of the Ireland game at the Aviva
— Daniel McDonnell (@McDonnellDan) December 1, 2016
While the possibility of a return ahead of schedule is very real, it is highly unlikely that Real Madrid would be happy to send their player into such an important and intense fixture while coming back from four months off after surgery.
Wales will still provide a very tough test for the boys in green, but a player of Bale's calibre would be a loss for any team in the world so Irish fans will be feeling a lot more confident if the man who was today named on the shortlist for the FIFA World XI for this tear doesn't make the trip.