Gareth Bale could make Real Madrid debut at left-back as defensive crisis hits Carlo Ancelotti's side

£86m world-record signing could be forced down the pitch against Villarreal

Just like in his early days at Tottenham, Gareth Bale could make his debut for Real Madrid at left-back.

Both Fabio Coentrao and Marcelo picked up injuries when playing for their countries during the international break, which could force the £86m world-record signing Bale back down the pitch for the La Liga fixture at Villarreal on Saturday.

Coentrao, who came so close to joining Manchester United in a frantic deadline-day scramble, suffered a muscle injury in Portugal’s 3-1 defeat by Brazil in the United States in the early hours of Wednesday morning. Marcelo had missed the victory over Portugal after injuring his thigh in Brazil’s 6-0 thrashing of Australia at the weekend, and was forced off at half-time.

Alvaro Arbeloa is another option for Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti. The versatile former Liverpool right-back can also fill in at left-back.

Bale played his first minutes of competitive football this season after coming off the bench in the second-half during Wales’ 3-0 home loss by Serbia on Tuesday. A groin strain had kept the 24-year-old out of action so far this season but he should now feature at the weekend.

The Welshman could play against former Tottenham team-mate Giovani Dos Santos. The Mexican was signed from Barcelona one year after Bale in June 2008, but failed to make an impact at White Hart Lane, making only 15 Premier League appearances in four seasons and was loaned out by Spurs on three occasions – to Ipswich Town, Galatasaray, and Racing Santander. Giovani joined Villarreal in June, and has already scored two goals in three La Liga appearances for his new club this season.