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The last thing Benzema needed was an injury

After being given a hard time by the Bernabéu crowd a fortnight ago, this wasn’t what he needed.

Real Madrid v Levante - La Liga Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images

Reports confirmed that the French striker and valued member of Real Madrid's 'BBC' sustained a hamstring strain last Saturday when he flicked his leg out in an attempt to intercept a pass as the ball was played out from the Levante defence.

Having been reassessed by the medical people after a few days’ rest, the reality is that Karim is now likely to be unavailable for the next four to six weeks. That won't have gone down too well with Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane who must have felt a sense of déjà vu.

It's only been a few months since both Karim and Raphael Varane were testing each other to the limits at Madrid's Valdebebas training ground during a previous international break towards the back end of last season.

It was Varane who had the hamstring injury then. Karim hadn't been selected for France and both spent the time training hard to be on top form as the season's finalé approached.

With Zidane opting to bring in the Castilla squad once again during the recent international break to enable more realistic match situations in the training sessions, once more the duo worked with the few Real Madrid players who haven't been involved in the recent internationals.

But now that Varane has returned to Real Madrid's first team squad after a lengthy period out with a groin injury, Karim's the one facing a spell on the side-lines. Having missed out yet again on the internationals, clearly it's not been the best of times for him.

With Real in desperate need of defensive cover, the hope was that both of the French players would figure highly for Real Madrid in the coming weeks as Varanereturned to full fitness.

But for Karim Benzema, the timing couldn't have been worse. Taking stick from your own crowd is bad enough in itself: but when the chance to win the doubters over is curtailed by an injury so early in the game - that's frustrating to say the least.

Hamstring muscle injuries occur in different ways. Normally the most common injury mechanisms arise from making a sharp sudden stop or a quick sprint coupled with an explosive burst, but they can also occur at any point during a long run such as getting back and forward from one penalty area to another.

Although it's quite common to see players pulling up while running and / or sprinting, other movements such as the quick flick of the leg that led to Karim's injury can have the same effect. As with making a change of pace for example, it's the speed of the sharp, sudden muscle contraction that does the damage.

Real Madrid's medical statement confirmed the diagnosis suspected at the time, but with the treatment and rehabilitation of injuries of this nature being a relatively straightforward process, the estimated recovery time quoted shouldn't be too far out.

One of the main reasons why the medical staff tend not to be more specific in predicting return to play times is to avoid the situation where a player is told that he'll be fit in three weeks for example and due to the injury turning out to be worse than originally feared, he ends up being out for five or six.

More accurate predictions can certainly be made a little further down the line but with muscle injuries in particular, it can be difficult to estimate exactly how long a player will be out of action in the immediate few days following the injury being sustained.

Injured tissues recover by going through different stages of healing and each of these require certain aspects of the healing process to be met before it is considered safe to progress to the next stage.

So for the moment, if the medical team are estimating four to six weeks for the recovery period, that would suggest that Karim will just be coming out of the first stage at the present time where the focus is on settling the injury down and preventing any worsening of symptoms before progressing to the strengthening, fitness, and football work etc.

Real Madrid have already had a few hamstring injuries in recent times, with Varane's lengthy absence is one in particular to note. In Varane’s case, he suffered a recurrence of the injury in his first game back and despite some criticism of the medics at the time, that does tend to be an unfortunate risk with these injuries.

Dani Carvajal also picked up a hamstring injury last season, as did Álvaro Morata and Marcelo. Like most players, Karim has suffered with hamstring strains in the past so this will be nothing new to him.

Although there are no suggestions of any complications anticipated at this point, there can often be that nagging doubt in players' minds when the time comes to get fully involved again as to whether they feel 100% ready or not.

The punch-line with that statement is that return to play decisions need to be made in conjunction with the medical teams; since all too often players will say they're ready long before they are and you end up with that vicious circle of recurrent injuries leading to missed game time and lost confidence.

Sometimes just delaying the return by an extra few days can actually make a significant difference.

Although often highly criticised, the rotational policy favoured by Zinedine Zidane provides ample scope to avoid situations like those. Although the down-side of that can be giving the impression that injured players are taking a while to recover, all that's happening is that people are being a lot more thorough and that can't be a bad thing in the long run.

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