GARETH BALE has refused to rule out a sensational move to Cardiff.
The Wales captain, 32, leaves Spanish giants Real Madrid when his contract expires at the end of this month.
Bale ruled out a move to Getafe last Friday after the La Liga club claimed he had been offered to them.
But when the forward, preparing for the Nations League clash against Holland on Tuesday night, was asked directly for the first time about a return to his hometown club, he replied: "I can't really say.
"I haven't really looked at everything yet. I have options. I don't have a timescale.
"I know possible destinations but it's something I need to sit down, first and foremost with my family, and then I need to speak with managers and physios and decide what's the best move for me, my family and my kids."
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Bale's comments will intensify the belief he could make a shock return to Wales in the Championship.
Cardiff are based at the same Vale of Glamorgan resort as Robert Page's Wales and their medical department where there is a golf course on site.
The forward has played in the top-flight since he joined Tottenham from Southampton in 2007.
But Bale opened the door to dropping down a division when he added: "It's something I guess I need to sit down and go through, not just with my family, but with the manager here (Page), with the physios here that we use, to see what would give me the best chance of being fit come November and December.
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"I don't really know if the standard makes too much of a difference. A football game is a football game. I feel like I'll never really lose my quality on the ball. I guess it's a conversation to be had."
Bale will have the club Real Madrid next to his name on Wales duty for the final time in Rotterdam.
He won five Champions League titles in a glittering nine-year spell in Spain and says he over-achieved.
Bale said: "It's been a massive success. if you offered me 10 per cent, I would have taken it at the start. It's been a good time.
"There's been some high times and low times but that's football. I feel like I've overachieved myself. I'm a little kid from Whitchurch. If you offered me this at the start of my career I'd have bitten your hand off. To go to a major tournament with Wales, I'm happy.
"The next step is going to be massively important. I need to make sure I'm playing games and I'm as fit as possible. Coming into this camp now, I wasn't fit at all. I didn't have much game time at all.
"Sometimes I'm able to get away with it. Ideally I want to go into a World Cup playing games and being able to be as fit as I can for as long as I can on the pitch.
"I've been available for quite a lot of the games in Spain, sometimes you just don't get picked so people assume that you're injured.
"It's that kind of perception, people think I play a lot of golf and I actually don't. People think I'm injured a lot, but I'm actually not. I feel OK. I'll patch myself up and go again."
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Bale also paid tribute to Wales rugby legend Phil Bennett, who passed away at the age of 73.
Bale said: "He's a massive Welsh icon. You see video when you're growing up of the amazing tries you score. Our hearts go out to his family, it's a Welsh legend lost and we all hold him in our hearts."
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