Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane has refused to set a date for Cristiano Ronaldo’s return, but is hopeful the Portugal international can make his comeback in next week’s home game against Celta Vigo.
Ronaldo will miss Sunday’s LaLiga opener against Real Sociedad due to the knee injury he picked up in the Euro 2016 final, but recently returned to training as he edges closer to a comeback.
Zidane was optimistic on the 31-year-old’s fitness, but rejected the notion Madrid would ask Portugal coach Fernando Santos to rest him from September’s internationals.
“I cannot give you a concrete date as to when Ronaldo will be back. He has returned to the pitch and is training with the ball, which is a good sign,” Zidane said in a media conference on Saturday.
“The most important thing is the way he feels. He could be ready to make his return against Celta. Next week will be important for his recovery.
“He is desperate to return as soon as possible. I am happy to see him training again.
“We have not thought about asking Portugal not to call him up for the international games yet. We have time to think about that after the game [against Sociedad].”
Madrid will also be without Karim Benzema versus Sociedad and Zidane is adamant they will not rush the Frenchman’s comeback.
“Karim’s situation is different to that of Ronaldo,” Zidane added.
“He has been having some problems with his hip and his back. I have been speaking with him and we don’t want him to enter the pitch and get injured again. We want him to be 100 per cent first.
“I can’t go into details. I have been talking with the medical staff and they are better placed to fully explain his situation.”
Zidane will be counting on Gareth Bale to lead Madrid’s attack in Ronaldo and Benzema’s absence and he is confident the Welshman is ready to step up.
“Bale can be our leader, just like always,” the Frenchman continued.
“He is an important player for us and he showed as much last term. I believe he can continue on the same path.
“He wants to make more history with this club. It is an important year for him.”