Carlo Ancelotti has called on Eden Hazard to follow the example of Real Madrid team-mate Mariano Diaz and have patience while he struggles to get into the team.
Hazard has struggled for fitness since joining Madrid from Chelsea in a €100million move in 2019.
The winger played just 30 LaLiga games across his first two seasons in the capital, restricted by a persistent ankle issue and a succession of muscle injuries.
This season, however, Hazard has been fit to feature in all 11 matchday squads in the league. Still struggling for his best form, he has made only four starts in nine appearances.
The Belgium international has not scored yet this term in all competitions and his sole Champions League outing saw him substituted after 66 minutes of the defeat to Sheriff.
Head coach Ancelotti, speaking ahead of Madrid’s next European test at home to Shakhtar Donetsk, will not allow Hazard to sulk, though.
Instead, he pointed to Mariano, whose first appearance of the season saw him start in Saturday’s 2-1 win at Elche and tee up the opener for Vinicius Junior – one of two chances created alongside four attempts. Hazard replaced Vinicius with six minutes left.
“A lot of players who don’t play must have faith,” Ancelotti told a news conference.
“Nobody thought that Mariano’s time could come, but it has and he has enjoyed it and played very well, showing professionalism. That’s what Hazard and the others who aren’t playing right now have to do.”
Luka Jovic, who has played 84 minutes in all competitions, spread across six substitute appearances, also falls into that category.
“I think Jovic is fine, happy to be here,” his coach said. “I try to give him as much love as possible.
“He’s a player I like as a striker. He knows it. In front of him is the best striker in the world, which is [Karim] Benzema. He must have faith that he will get his chance.”
But the situation is different with Gareth Bale, who has been hampered by a thigh injury since returning from a loan spell at Tottenham.
His three games for Madrid this season are matched by three for Wales, last featuring in the September international break.
Bale has been called up again this month, but Ancelotti is not interested in getting drawn into a club-versus-country debate.
“The player is committed,” he said. “His situation is quite clear. He has had a major injury, he has needed recovery time. He can train before the Rayo [Vallecano] game [on Saturday].
“His national team calls him because they need him. There they will have to evaluate whether he can play or not.
“If the player is fully recovered, we are delighted that he will play for the national team, because if he accumulates minutes he can return in a better condition.”
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