Real Madrid coach Rafael Benitez believes he needs to manage Toni Kroos’ playing time this season to keep the midfielder at his best.
The Germany international made 55 appearances in all competitions last season and Benitez is wary of avoiding a repeat.
Despite being injury-free, Kroos watched on from the bench as Real thrashed Espanyol 6-0 in La Liga on last weekend.
The 25-year-old returned for the Champions League win over Shakhtar Donetsk on Tuesday, playing 90 minutes.
Benitez said he was eager to avoid overusing Kroos so early in the season.
“I know how important he was for the team last season and how difficult it was for him to hold down the fort in midfield virtually alone all campaign, so what I want is to keep him fresh,” he told a news conference.
“Luka [Modric] and Kroos make the difference when they’re on the pitch. I will rotate by making changes in certain positions, but Kroos is very important for us.”
Real host Granada in La Liga on Saturday.