REAL MADRID

A look at Real Madrid's casualty room with five days to the derby

Ramos and Modric will be in the starting XI at the Calderón. Theoretically Benzema should be too while Casemiro will undergo tests this week.

Casualty room clear-out

With five days to go before the derby, Zidane is closely monitoring his injured playing staff. The line-up he fields at the Calderón on Saturday will depend on how several of his walking wounded are feeling in the five training sessions running up to the match. The main dilemma facing the Madrid coach is that with El Clásico looming (it's just under three weeks away), he doesn't want to force any of players to return ahead of time. On the positive side, there's more good news to report than bad:

Modric:

The Croatian reappeared as a sub in the Leganés game on 13 November after undergoing surgery to trim cartilage inside his left knee back on 2 October. Zidane's main worry was how Croatia boss Ante Čačić planned to use the midfielder in the weekend game against Iceland and tomorrow's friendly against Northern Ireland. Modric explained to Čačić that he couldn't see himself copmpleting 90 minutes and came on for the second half against Iceland. He has been excused from the Northern Ireland friendly and returned to Madrid yesterday, telling reporters on arrival: "I'm ready for the derby".

Ramos:

On 10 October, Madrid confirmed that the captain had suffered a Grade II injury to the collateral medial ligament in his left knee. Since then, the defender has been publishing regular updates on his recovery on his social media accounts. His most recent message just said "Closer". He will be available for Saturday's game at the Calderón. The problem is that he's not match-fit - he's been a month without competing and that might affect his performance levels.

Benzema:

He ended the Legia game with twinges to both hamstrings and missed the Leganés game. The club didn't issue a medical report with the only explication coming from Zidane in a press conference: "He's got a problem with his hamstrings but we don't know exactly what it is". He was seen running and wotrking with the ball out on the practice pitches in Valdebebas last week, and has been combining morning sessions at Real Madrid City with personal training at home in the afternoons. On Friday, he travelled to Turkey for a promotional event. The pain has been subsiding and if there are no last minute setbacks, he will be in the team to face Atlético.

Kovacic:

He ended the Leganés match with pain in his ankle. He was called by Croatia and despite being a doubt, he started the Iceland game. He lasted just 20 minutes and requested to be brought off after his troublesome ankle started giving him problems again. Čačić has relieved him of his duties in the Northern Ireland friendly and he is due back in Madrid today where club doctors will take a look at his ankle. The five days in the run-up to the derby should be enough time for him to recover.

Casemiro:

He suffered a hairline fracture to his shin bone in the Week 4 meeting with Espanyol on 18 September and it was estimated that he would spend a month on the sidelines. The fracture has taken longer to heal than first thought and he remains doubtful for the derby. The Brazilian has been working tirelessly to make it for the game - he's been seeing running at full speed and training with the ball but without contact. He will undergo a series of tests this week but if medical staff are not convinced, Casemiro will be reserved for El Clásico.

Pepe:

He felt a sharp pinch and pulled up while chasing a ball with Theo Hernández during the Alavés game in Week 10. The medical report confirmed a Grade II injury to his left hamstring and six weeks on the sidelines. He is ruled out for the derby but is progressing from his injury much better than medical staff predicted. He is poised to return but won't be at 100 per cent for the Calderón.

Kroos:

He also fell injured in the Leganés match, but didn't realize until the following day. Tests revealed a fracture to the fifth metatarsal in his right foot. At the time he was told he would be out for a month and a half which means he  will miss the derby and El Clásico. He has started his rehabilitation in Germany with the hope that he will be able to return to December's Club World Cup.

Asensio:

He took a sharp blow to the ribs whilst on duty with Spain's Under-21s in Friday's Euro 2017 Play-Off against Austria. It shouldn't affect his availability for the derby but he still has the return leg against Austria to play tomorrow and Zidane will be keeping fingers and toes crossed that the young midfielder ends that game without any problems.