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How long will Marcelo be out?

Will he be available for the Madrid derby?

Manuel Queimadelos Alonso/Getty Images

So Marcelo now has a shoulder injury after falling and landing on it against Granada on Sunday. Although speculation was rife after the game that the Brazilian full-back had suffered a dislocation of the shoulder, the medical report released on Tuesday by Real Madrid indicated the injury was a sprain of the acromio-clavicular joint (ACJ) as opposed to a dislocation of the shoulder joint itself.

You would expect the information coming from the club to be more accurate than from online media sources. This means therefore that Marcelo has the same injury Sergio Ramos suffered with; and everyone held their breaths on Sunday night when he landed on his shoulder early in the game.  For a split second we all feared the worst but Sergio quickly got up and played on. Marcelo's injury was sustained right at the end of the game; and from memory it looked as though someone tried to pull him to his feet immediately after he hit the ground, but he went down again obviously in a lot of pain.

He's likely to be out of action for a few weeks. On the positive side, ACJ sprains often recover well if the tissue damage is fairly light. Provided that surgery isn't required, the recovery period can only take a few weeks. If there's bone damage involved then the whole process can take a lot longer; and depending on the extent of the injury, surgery may or not be indicated. The appropriate investigations carried out on Tuesday will have provided a clearer picture of the situation as a whole.

At this stage it's going to be too difficult to estimate with any degree of accuracy how long it's going to be until Marcelo returns to the team. Injuries as we know take time to settle and the important period is during the first five to seven days immediately after the injury has been sustained. It's at this point when the foundations for tissue healing are laid and with the injury still in that early acute stage, any disruption to the healing process can lead to delays in rehabilitation at the other end of the time scale. In the early acute part of any soft-tissue injury, rest is the most important thing; closely followed by protection from further injury. This can include keeping away from well-meaning fingers that want to dig in and massage the injured part!

It's essential not to disturb the initial tissue healing and that's sometimes why injuries recur. There's already been talk in the media of Marcelo coming back within a couple of weeks and that just doesn't seem realistic at the moment bearing in mind that he's been injured for less than a week. It would be far better just to say that his recovery is going to be monitored over the next seven to ten days and delay giving a more accurate prognosis until the injury has had time to properly settle.

It's very easy for medical staff to get their fingers burned by making statements to the effect that players will be making a quick return from injury when the recovery time in reality is actually going to be the opposite. Real Madrid haven't said as yet what Marcelo's anticipated return date is likely to be; and in football terms that normally means that the injury is likely to take a lot longer than you would hope for or that the true extent of the injury has yet to be revealed.

Having had his investigations on Tuesday, the scans performed at La Moraleja would be expected to provide a more in-depth assessment of the state of his ACJ; but the real key is in investigating the extent of the ligamentous damage sustained. If we are only talking about a partial tear of the ACJ ligaments then a few weeks out would be a realistic prediction. However, if bony structures are involved, for example if the injury meant that Marcelo's collar bone - or clavicle to give it the right term - was fractured or displaced, then the recovery period is going to be a lot longer. In practical terms it may take further investigation or repeat scans in a week's time to establish the full extent of the damage sustained.

Of course, as Madrid's only recognised left-back at the moment the pressure is going to be on the medical people to ensure Marcelo makes a return to the team as quickly as possible; but that's where the club needs to be careful.  Gareth Bale's not ready to return as yet; and having released statements recently saying that he's doing well and running etc, it looks as though the club are now having to adopt a more cautious approach to when Gareth's return to the team is likely to be. That same caution now needs to be extended to Marcelo.

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