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Who’s got the most realistic chance of playing against PSG?

As the PSG game approaches we're still waiting for an official statement from Real Madrid about who is likely to be fit and who isn't.

Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

There didn't seem to be anything serious on the injury front after the Levante game but sometimes minor injuries don't become apparent right away.  Fingers crossed that everyone involved on Saturday will have reported fit and well this morning.  The problem as everyone knows is not so much who might have turned in on Sunday with niggles after the Levante game, but concerns the players who were unavailable at the weekend.  How many of those currently injured realistically have a chance of returning to the team this Wednesday night in Paris.

The longer-term injured of James Rodrigues and Pepe are the first two that spring to mind.  It's been reported that James had a set-back this time last week and although he appeared close to making a return, he's still apparently not quite in contention to make a return as yet.  No doubt James is working as hard as he can to reach the level of fitness he needs, but if he wasn't in contention for the Levante game then he's going to be battling the clock as well as his injury if he's going to make the Paris trip.

Pepe's injury, though, seems to be causing concern in a quiet sort of way.  It's been notable that with so little information being released by the club about Pepe, the worry is that he's potentially going to be out of action for some time yet.  This isn't the first time that Pepe has suffered with this type of contusion injury.  He missed some time last season after a similar episode and there have been other occasions in the last few seasons when he's also been unavailable with injuries along the lines of the current presentation.

As a defender, Pepe's always going to be at risk of picking up contact injuries.  In his position in the centre of the defence he's often the last man in the line and making physical challenges is part of his job description.  He's had his fair share of bumps and bruises over the years but there are some injuries you can play on with and there are some you can't.  It's often very difficult to predict the day after an injury has been sustained exactly how long the recovery period is actually going to be, and in some cases attempting to do so could turn out to be little more than an educated guess; which isn't really what you want at Madrid's level!

The silence from the Real Madrid medical team over Pepe's injury progress could potentially mean that his absence is likely to take a lot longer than originally anticipated - or that his return to action is imminent.  Some injuries can respond to treatment quite well with the exception of that last important stage where uncontrolled situations can set you back.

It may well be that Pepe is progressing well but just hasn't quite reached the level of fitness where the medical people are comfortable about letting him join in again without the odds of recurrence being too high.  These situations can often drag on and everyone falls into the habit of saying that another week or so, or just a couple of days more, will be all it takes for the injury to settle and all will be well.  Then, before you know it, another week has passed; the injury hasn't responded (even though everyone is doing things exactly as they should be) and you're still not available for selection.  In Pepe's case, he might be nearly there in terms of injury recovery and fitness; but not quite "there enough" to take a chance on returning to the team.

Contusion injuries can go one of two ways: they can either respond very quickly or they can seemingly drag on for ages.  If the bleeding is internal to the muscle tissues themselves, then often there's not a lot that can be done to speed things up.  Although sports medicine today is based on science and evidence, sometimes the body needs to be left alone to heal naturally at it's own pace. I appreciate that although that's not what managers and coaches (or even physios) might want to hear, but sometimes it's a fact of injury life that can't be avoided.  Either way, this is sure to be have been one of the most frustrating times of Pepe's career and he's going to be desperate to put it all behind him, get back into the team and on with the rest of the season asap.

By all accounts Sergio Ramos seems to be the one who has the most realistic chance of appearing at the Parc de Princes.  He didn't do himself any favours in the long term by coming back early and playing against Atletico Madrid, but since then he's been working hard and hopefully the couple of weeks since then will have made all the difference.  It still might be a bit of a gamble in terms of his match fitness but at least he's going to be in better shape than he was a fortnight ago.  Of all the players who have missed game time recently, it's generally accepted that Sergio Ramos is the most influential as far as on-the-field organisation and performance is concerned.

However, it remains to be seen whether the others, Dani Carvajal, Luka Modric and Karim Benzema will be in contention for the return leg against PSG or even for the Celta Vigo or Las Palmas games in between the Champions League fixtures.  Danilo appeared to come through the Levante game without any real problems but Karim Benzema is reporting cautious about his chances of playing on Wednesday.  Karim's a seasoned professional and as such I think he's a bit too long in the tooth to take any chances with his hamstring injury, but we'll have to wait see who's included in the travelling party once this is announced before being able to comment further.

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