Karim Benzema could be fit enough for a place in the Real Madrid starting XI for their derby clash with Atletico Madrid on Saturday, head coach Zinedine Zidane has revealed.
Striker Benzema missed Madrid’s last game before the international break – a 3-0 LaLiga win over Leganes – with a hip problem and was a doubt for this weekend’s fixture at the Vicente Calderon.
The Frenchman returned to training on Thursday and Zidane says he could be included from the start.
“Benzema will be in the squad,” he told a news conference. “He has recovered and I’m happy to have him back.
“We’ll have to wait and see if he’s ready to play. If he’s in the squad it means he could start.
“Karim has been training well with his team-mates. We’ll wait and see on Saturday if he will start.”
The availability of Benzema will plug the gap left by Alvaro Morata, who could miss up to a month with a hamstring injury picked up while on international duty with Spain.
Morata initially sustained the issue in a World Cup qualifier against Macedonia last week, with Madrid reportedly furious he was allowed to play 26 minutes in a 2-2 friendly draw with England on Tuesday.
However, Zidane is reluctant to point the finger.
“These things can happen in football,” he added. “I’m not going to blame anyone. We’re upset with Alvaro’s injury but these things can happen.
“We just hope he makes a speedy recovery. We can’t change the past.
“It’s easy now looking back. I don’t know exactly what happened the other day. I’m sure everybody there that works in the backroom staff is professional and did their job. Now we have to be patient and look after Alvaro.
“When players head off on international duty you hope they return with a clean bill of health, but the most important thing is that he makes a quick recovery. We have to focus on Saturday.”
Zidane also had positive news regarding the fitness of Sergio Ramos, who has been out since early October with a knee injury.
“Sergio has been training well this week and we’ll decide tomorrow how the team will line-up,” he said.
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