Soccer-Spurs' Bale close to hitting top gear, says Mason

FILE PHOTO: Premier League - Tottenham Hotspur v Sheffield United - Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, London, Britain - May 2, 2021 Tottenham Hotspur's Gareth Bale scores their second goal Pool via REUTERS/Nick Potts

(Reuters) - Tottenham Hotspur interim manager Ryan Mason says Gareth Bale is rediscovering his best form and hopes the Welsh forward will have an important role to play in the London club's hunt for a top-four finish.

Bale, 31, arrived at Tottenham on loan in September, but initially struggled with his form and fitness, making just six Premier League starts under former manager Jose Mourinho.

But, under Mason, who took charge after the Portuguese's dismissal last month, Bale has flourished, scoring four goals in two games, including a hat-trick in Sunday's 4-0 Premier League win against Sheffield United.

"He's a top professional with immense quality," Mason told a news conference ahead of Saturday's trip to Leeds United. "The last two weeks have been excellent.

"He's happy, I'm happy. That's important. At the moment you're seeing Gareth close to his best.

"We've got so many options in that high end of the pitch, so much quality. There's difficult decisions to make but Gareth has proved in the last couple of weeks that he's still got that quality in the final third. Let's hope it continues."

Bale's agent Jonathan Barnett this week said the forward had endured an unnecessarily "tough ride" under Mourinho but was happy playing for Mason.

Asked if the Welshman could remain at the club beyond this season, Mason remained tight-lipped.

"Those questions are not for me," he said. "Gareth and his parent club will be having conversations once the season's over. It wouldn't be right of us to be thinking of next season now."

Spurs have won both their league games under Mason to climb to sixth on 56 points, five points adrift of fourth-placed Chelsea with four games to play.

Securing a top-four finish would boost Mason's chances of taking up the job permanently, but the 29-year-old said his focus was not on his long-term future.

"That's all hypothetical," he said. "I'm just thinking about the next game. I'm not silly enough to start thinking ahead to certain situations, and that's all I have to say."

(Reporting by Arvind Sriram in Bengaluru; Editing by Toby Davis)

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