Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane has defended James Rodriguez despite admitting he is annoyed at the persistent rumours surrounding the Colombia international.
James, 24, has reportedly been seen at nightclubs in Madrid during a difficult spell which has seen him struggle to get into the starting XI amid criticism of his weight and performances.
The former Monaco star has also been caught speeding on his way to training this month and Zidane admits the recent speculation about his late-night activities is unwelcome.
“Yes, they annoy me,” said Zidane when asked about rumours of James being out late at night ahead of his side’s La Liga game at Real Betis on Sunday.
“I am interested in what we do here and he is very involved, very committed. I don’t believe what is being said about him.
“I am not more concerned with him than any of the others. I am close to him. I don’t see him worried. He is relaxed.
“The important thing is to work hard and get in shape. We spoke on Friday and he is relaxed. The idea is that he is in top shape. This week he is ready to play.
“I think James had a very good week. Like they all did. I am happy with what he is doing. He is working very hard and we know how important he is. He is prepared.”
Zidane also confirmed Sergio Ramos would not be fit to make a comeback from a calf injury against Betis, with Gareth Bale (also calf) already ruled out.
The Frenchman added: “He (Ramos) is not coming to Seville. Or if he comes, he won’t be in the group. We decided with him. Next week he will be with us and he won’t have any problems.
“Will James or Jese replace Bale? You will see it in the game.”