Zinedine Zidane will select Sergio Ramos for Saturday’s LaLiga clash with Sporting Gijon despite his captain walking a disciplinary tightrope one week out form El Clasico.
Ramos has four bookings in Spain’s top flight this season and would miss next weekend’s trip to face Barcelona at Camp Nou if he incurs the wrath of the officials versus Sporting.
Zidane has Pepe back in training following a thigh injury, but Raphael Varane took a knock to his right knee against Sporting CP in midweek, meaning he is not flush with options at centre-back.
“Sergio will have to play. I’m not focussing on that yellow card or worrying about that yellow card. We have a key game,” said Zidane.
“Before Barcelona we have a game on Saturday and hopefully it all works out well.”
Alongside Pepe, holding midfielder Casemiro is available once more having returned to full training from the fracture fibula he suffered at Espayol in September.
“He is with us, he’s in good shape and you wait and see how we play,” Zidane said when asked whether the Brazilian would be thrust back into his starting line-up.
“If he is with the squad it is because he is fit and able to play.”
Karim Benzema came off the bench to head a late winner in Lisbon and further onus is likely to fall upon the Frenchmen despite a fitful campaign, following Gareth Bale’s ankle injury.
Zidane added: “Everyone is looking at Karim Benzema, everyone is watching every single move – he needs to play every game, he needs to score every game, he needs to work harder than others.
“He just needs to keep doing what he is doing. There will always be criticism, sometimes unfounded.”