Zinedine Zidane is adamant that James Rodriguez remains an important player for Real Madrid and stressed there is no problem with the Colombia international, who he feels is no different to other players who would like to play more often.
James has been in and out of the team since Zidane replaced Rafael Benitez at Santiago Bernabeu and was left out of the starting XI for the recent important games against Sevilla, Barcelona, Wolfsburg and Villarreal.
Nevertheless, Zidane has made it clear he still has faith in the former Monaco attacking midfielder even if he will not feel obliged to bring the 24-year-old on to the pitch when he is named among the substitutes.
“I don’t see any problems with James – he is an important player,” Zidane said at his media conference ahead of Saturday’s match against Rayo Vallecano.
“James is important for us. He played well and scored a goal against Eibar and Getafe. He obviously wants to play more, but that’s the same for every player who doesn’t play all the time.
“Of course, we have 24 players and I can only pick 11. Sometimes it looks like I always have to make three changes in a game, but I will only do so if I think it is necessary.
“I am the coach and I have to make decisions.”
Zidane also had his say on defender Raphael Varane, praising his compatriot’s professional attitude in response to previous question marks over his form and fitness.
“I think Varane has been playing very well,” said the former World Cup winner. “He has shown what he can do and has enough confidence to play for Madrid and France.
“He had some problems when he returned from his injury, but he is very serious and professional. He always wants to improve. He is an extraordinary guy who is doing very well and I am happy with him.”
Madrid will be without Cristiano Ronaldo against Rayo due to a thigh injury, but Zidane confirmed Gareth Bale is ready to make his comeback after a brief spell on the sidelines.
“Bale is doing better and has been training well,” he added.
“He is fully recovered and will be part of the squad against Rayo. Then we will see if he plays.”