By Noel Whelan

2nd Jan, 2021 | 9:45am

Exclusive: Top pundit points the finger at Mourinho after Bale update via Sky

Gareth Bale needs to be given more starts at Tottenham if he is to rediscover his best form and get over his injury problems, according to Noel Whelan.

The former Leeds United and Coventry City striker, speaking exclusively to Football Insider, has insisted the Wales international has been underplayed by Jose Mourinho and needs to be a “permanent fixture” in the starting XI.

As confirmed by Mourinho to Sky Sports, the 31-year-old is set to spend the next “few weeks” on the sidelines after picking up a calf injury in the League Cup win over Stoke City last month.

Bale has started just once in four Premier League appearances since returning to Tottenham on loan, although he was in the starting XI for all six Europa League games.

Whelan has insisted the Real Madrid loanee needs to be starting games week in, week out and suggested it would help him shake off the injury problems he has suffered this season.

Whelan told Football Insider: “He’s not getting the starts – he’s getting the starts in Europe but not in the Premier League.

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“For a player like Gareth Bale, who’s not played that much football for quite a while when he was at Real Madrid, if you’re going to bring a player like that in he’s got to be a permanent fixture, a little bit like the Everton player, James Rodriguez.

“If you’re gonna bring players in like that, with that kind of quality, the only way to see that quality is for them to be in the first team playing week in, week out at the top flight which is the Premier League and he’s not getting that at the minute.

“He’s getting these little game times here and there and minutes here and there but it’s not enough for a player that is at that age who hasn’t played that much football to really see the (best of) Gareth Bale.

“That will make him fitter and stronger and probably less injury-prone, quite frankly, in my opinion, but it just goes to show the competitiveness that Tottenham have got in the ranks, that a player like that can’t get into the matchday squad on a Saturday in the Premier League.”

In other news, a Tottenham big name has been tipped to join a new club with a deal all but done.