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Benitez unconcerned by Real injury list

Rafael Benitez has played down the significance of the injuries endured by his in-form Real Madrid squad this week.

On the back of respective 5-0 and 6-0 La Liga wins over Real Betis and Espanyol, Real put Shakhtar Donetsk to the sword 4-0 in the Champions League on Tuesday.

But the latter triumph came at a cost as Gareth Bale sustained a calf injury and Sergio Ramos suffered a dislocated shoulder either side of Raphael Varane departing at half-time with an ankle problem.

France defender Varane resumed training on Friday but Bale and Ramos will miss Saturday’s La Liga visit of Granada, joining James Rodriguez (thigh) and Danilo (foot) on the sidelines.

But Benitez is relaxed about the situation, pointing to the opportunity it affords players such as Mateo Kovacic, who is widely tipped to make his first Real start having replaced Bale against Shakhtar.

“There’s nothing decided about the players to replace Bale and Ramos,” Benitez told a news conference. “We don’t have so many injuries. They are normal stats.

“The casualties are important but we have a lot of quality in this group of players.

“We can reinforce central midfield or keep the same system to replace Gareth Bale.

“Kovacic played against Shakhtar because we had more problems between the lines and he could come in and help us.”

A statement released by Real Madrid on Thursday could not specify the length of time Bale will spend on the sidelines, with fears in the player’s homeland that he could miss the pivotal conclusion to Wales’ Euro 2016 qualifying campaign next month.

Benitez was unable to offer any guarantees on the former Tottenham star’s recovery but maintained a positive outlook.

“We are optimistic about Gareth Bale,” he added. “He has recovered well from injury in the past.”

Fri 18 Sep, 2015
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