Gareth Bale must earn every minute on the pitch at Tottenham with Jose Mourinho insisting he does not give them out easily.
On loan from Real Madrid and facing an uncertain future, Bale is yet to hit the heights since delighting Spurs fans with his return to the club in September.
Issues with the winger’s form and fitness have meant he has only started one Premier League match, while he is yet to complete 90 minutes in any competition.
Ahead of Monday’s FA Cup fourth-round tie at Wycombe Wanderers, Mourinho was asked if it would be beneficial to give Bale regular outings of between 30 and 60 minutes to build up his fitness and confidence.
Mourinho, however, suggested performances in training held the key to his decision.
The former Madrid head coach hopes Bale will come through this week unscathed in order to boost his chances of a long run-out against Championship outfit Wycombe.
“I cannot give players minutes,” Mourinho said about Bale. “Minutes on the pitch are not something I can give. I wouldn’t go in this direction.
“We all know the difficulties he had for a couple of seasons. We all know that he arrived injured. We all know that even this season he has been a little bit up and down with small things.
“The most important thing is to be consistent and training without any problems.
“When a player is consistently training high intensity without any kind of problems then the player is ready not to be given minutes but is ready to earn minutes. That to me is a different thing.”
Mourinho added: “This week, he is working every minute like everybody else at a good intensity.
“Let’s see the way he reacts to that accumulation, to that load of work. Let’s see how he reacts by the end of the week.
“If he feels – because it is also about his own feelings – that the week that he had has had a positive impact on him and his confidence, he will play the match on Monday.”
Amid reports Tottenham would not be extending Bale’s loan spell for a second season, Mourinho insisted last week that no decision had yet been made.