Bale wary of Hearts
Gareth Bale insists Tottenham Hotspur will not underestimate opponents Heart of Midlothian in the club's upcoming UEFA Europa League play-off tie.
Tottenham take on Hearts at Tynecastle on Thursday in the first of two matches that will decide which club makes it through to the group stages of the competition.
Spurs are favourites to advance, but Bale is adamant that he and his team-mates will not be taking the match lightly. "We fully know what to expect at Hearts, we know they will probably look to come at us but we'll also be raring to go," Bale told Spurs TV Online.
"They will be just as determined to qualify and we'll need to start well. I'm sure it will be a good game and we won't take it lightly, that's for sure. We'll treat it like any other game and go out to win."
Bale was a key player in helping Tottenham reach the quarter-finals of the UEFA Champions League last year, grabbing the headlines with a series of sensational displays down the left flank. Ankle and back injuries during the second half of the season restricted his game time and the team suffered, slipping to sixth before rallying to claim a Europa League qualifying spot.
The 22-year-old has worked his way back to full fitness now though and is looking forward to playing a full part in the campaign ahead.
He said: "It's been a good pre-season for me. I haven't picked up any injuries. I'm back from my ankle injury and I feel strong. I'm definitely looking forward to the season now. I did my rehab in Cardiff so I could be back fit for a tough pre-season and that's important to any player."
Tottenham are expected to be without a number of key players for Thursday's first leg in Edinburgh. William Gallas has a calf problem, Ledley King is recovering from knee surgery and Sandro, Alan Hutton (both knee) and Steven Pienaar (groin) are all unavailable.
There are also doubts over the fitness of Jermaine Jenas, Luka Modric and Tom Huddlestone, meaning Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp may be forced to play the likes of Jake Livermore and Danny Rose.