Joe Allen has backed his Wales teammate Gareth Bale to regain his place in Real Madrid's starting lineup, describing his demotion to the bench as "baffling".
Once the most expensive footballer in the world, Bale is now merely an occasional starter under Zinedine Zidane, with Lucas Vazquez and Marco Asensio selected ahead of him for Real Madrid's last game – a 6-3 win over Girona.
Furthermore, he failed to make the starting XI for their two Champions League wins over Paris Saint-Germain.
Stoke City midfielder Allen has come to the former Tottenham star's defence, claiming: "It is baffling really. He’ll be disappointed.
Unbelievable reception here in China and to see so many Welsh Fans make the trip. Very proud to break Ian’s record tonight with the hat-trick ⚽⚽⚽ #29 #togetherstronger🏴 pic.twitter.com/siujPl2wvR
— Gareth Bale (@GarethBale11) March 22, 2018
"But I’m sure it is only a matter of time before he’ll be back starting and playing regularly – doing for them what he always does for us."
Allen hailed the 28-year-old for scoring a hat-trick in Wales' 6-0 win over China, thus breaking Ian Rush's record of 28 goals for the country.
"It was an incredible hat-trick and he is going to have plenty of time to extend that record now," he said.
"He's really chuffed he's got it, and there is some sense it's out of the way. He's going to get a lot more goals.
"It will take something pretty special to ever beat his record."