Rafael Benitez has reported a united dressing room at Real Madrid ahead of his team’s return to La Liga action against Levante.
Real resume after the international break second in the standings, a point behind surprise early leaders Villarreal.
They are unbeaten in all competitions under Benitez, but the former Liverpool boss has come in for criticism following back-to-back Liga draws with Malaga and Atletico Madrid, with detractors pointing towards a perceived negative style of play.
Rumours of rifts with key members of the playing staff, most notably Cristiano Ronaldo, have also been a feature of the fallout from the Madrid derby – something Benitez was keen to refute.
“I’m surprised how many stories are invented, we have a very good locker room,” he said in an interview on Onda Cero.
“The relationship between them is quite good, a very good atmosphere among the players, relaxed and healthy.
“I have no problems with any player in the squad. Yesterday I had a good time talking with Cristiano.
“I have a custom that is to greet them and ask how they are. I greet [the players] one by one. I’ve had more complicated locker rooms than this one.”
Captain Sergio Ramos, who Benitez described as “a phenomenon” and stated that there were “zero problems between us”, is back in training after missing Spain’s closing Euro 2016 qualifiers with a shoulder injury.
Luka Modric sustained an adductor injury while away with Croatia and he is set for a period on the sidelines, although Gareth Bale played a full part in Wales’ qualifiers against Bosnia-Herzegovina and Andorra to put his recent calf injury behind him.
“We have a lot of injuries, but very clear circumstances,” Benitez said.
“[The medical staff] work hard to prevent [injuries], but we play twice a week to intensity. We have many internationals.”
Levante checked Villarreal’s flying start with a 1-0 win last time out – Brazilian forward Deyverson netting decisively seven minutes from time to seal a first victory of the campaign and lift Lucas Alcaraz’s men out of the relegation zone.
Ivan Lopez was substituted before half-time in that game and missed training on Wednesday along with fellow defender David Navarro (vertigo) and midfielder Verza.
Angel Trujillo has resumed gym work after undergoing eye surgery last month.
“We have casualties, some in the same position, but let’s make the best of it.” Alcarez told a pre-match press conference.
“Rafael Benitez is a methodical coach and I very positively appreciate his work.”
Real have won their past seven La Liga games against Levante, whose previous triumph at the Santiago Bernabeu came in 2007 when Salva Ballesta scored the only goal.
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