LALIGA

Zidane accepts that Jovic may miss rest of the season

Eden Hazard and Marco Asensio could play major roles in the rest of Real Madrid's season after recovering from serious injuries.

Zidane glad to have 'fully fit' Hazard and Asensio, but accepts Jovic may miss rest of season

Zinedine Zidane is thrilled to have Eden Hazard and Marco Asensio fully fit again following significant injury lay-offs, but he could not guarantee Luka Jovic will recover before the end of the season.

Hazard and Asensio have both had miserable seasons, with the Belgium international enduring a continued battle with fitness problems, while the Spaniard is yet to make an appearance after rupturing his anterior cruciate ligament in a pre-season friendly.

Hazard suffered an ankle fracture in November, ruling him out for almost three months, and he then cracked his fibula shortly after returning.

Had the season not have been suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic, the former Chelsea star – who joined Madrid in a reported €100million deal last year – would have been expected to be out for at least another eight weeks.

But, as Madrid prepare to return to action at home to Eibar on Sunday, Zidane confirmed both Hazard and Asensio are available once again, potentially a significant boost as Los Blancos attempt to chase down pacesetters Barcelona, who go to Real Mallorca later on Saturday with a two-point lead.

"The good thing is they had the same time to prepare as the rest of the team," Zidane told reporters on Saturday.

"Asensio's injury was a bit more serious and required longer rehabilitation, but both are available, they'll be there for the team to help us and it's good news to have them back."

Zidane was again asked about Hazard's condition and the Frenchman affirmed the winger is completely recovered, though Jovic may not return anytime soon.

The Serbian forward broke his foot in May and Zidane was unable to guarantee he would be able to play again in what has been a disappointing first season at the Santiago Bernabeu for the former Eintracht Frankfurt star.

"On Hazard, I'm happy he's back and fully fit, he has re-joined the group and he can play and help us. The bad news is Jovic's injury," he said.

"He injured himself at home. It was unfortunate, obviously, because now it will keep him away from the pitch.

"We don't know for how long for, but we'll see. It's bad news of course – we hope he is back as soon as possible and before the season is over."

One of the new temporary measures brought in for the end of the season following the enforced hiatus is a substitutions increase from three to five.

Critics have suggested this will benefit the bigger clubs with deeper squads, though Zidane does not see it making a major difference to anyone.

"I don't think anyone will benefit immensely," he added. "It's a different rule, we have to adapt to it and if we have five substitutes then we'll adapt to that.

"As I say, I have 23 players available and I'll try to adapt to it. The circumstances are strange and obviously we have to take that into account, but we adapt to whatever we need to adapt to. We're ready for everything."