It’s not very often we regard international weeks as being helpful where players’ fitness levels are concerned but this time might be the exception.
Most of these so-called ‘breaks’ are viewed as little more than a nuisance by the coaches and the general feeling is that their training plans are disrupted at important periods in the club calendar.
This time, though, it’s a little bit different. For once, the international break actually suits Real Madrid. The injured players will be staying at home this week to work on their recovery.
And as a return to first team action beckons for Marcelo, Mariano and Dani Carvajal, the fact that none of the trio are travelling with their respective national teams this time around is an unexpected bonus for the medical and fitness staff at the club.
Jesús Vallejo will continue to work at his own rehabilitation following his thigh injury in the company of Casemiro, Nacho and Sergio Reguilón; all of whom joined the young defender in the treatment room after Sunday’s game in Galicia.
The only exception to this is once again Rafaël Varane, who travelled to meet up with the French squad earlier in the week after stepping up his own training at Valdebebas recently.
So once again it looks as though the Real Madrid player will be making his return to match fitness in an international game; just as he did this time last year. It’s something that will irritate the new coach Santiago Solari just as much as it did his predecessors.
And while Solari will be keen to give those players who are returning from recent injury problems as much playing time as possible, I’m sure he would much rather do this at club level as opposed to with the French, Croatian or Welsh national teams for example.
Gareth Bale has been back playing in Madrid’s first team since the last international week in October; but picked up an ankle injury against Celta and this forced him to miss Wales’ training earlier this week.
Reports from the Welsh training camp indicate that Gareth is likely to turn out against Denmark on Friday though.
A clearer picture of the current medical situation at Real should emerge within the next few days. As the weekend approaches, the injuries suffered by Casemiro, Nacho and Sergio Reguilón will have settled properly and initial investigations will have been concluded.
Ankle injuries of the type reported to have been sustained by Casemiro are not normally associated with a quick return to play. This is because the ligaments involved are in a different part of the ankle to those normally injured in most straight-forward ankle sprains.
Often referred to a ‘high ankle sprain’, the injury to Casemiro occured in the ligaments above the ankle joint and involves the tibia and fibula which can have an effect on ankle stability in the long run.
Injuries of this nature can take a while to recover and are often referred for surgical repair.
Although with Casemiro there hasn’t been much information provided by the club other than a working diagnosis pending an assessment of his progress as the week goes by. Hopefully the injury won’t turn out to be too serious.
Nacho meanwhile has been reported to have suffered a ligamentous sprain of the knee in the match against Celta last week.
Indications are that this injury will have affected the medial collateral ligament (MCL) of the knee but further associated injuries probably can’t be fully ruled out at this stage.
As with Casemiro, Nacho’s progress will be monitored by the medical teams with further investigation actioned if required over the next few days.
Sergio Reguilón has been diagnosed with an injury to one of the hamstring muscles; that old favourite of footballers known as the biceps femoris.
Sergio joins a host of other Real Madrid players who have suffered a similar injury including Mariano, Dani Carvajal and Luka Modrić to name but a few.
Jesús Vallejo is still recovering from a strain of the rectus femoris muscle of the left thigh but these can also take time to recover fully.
Known as the ‘kicking muscle’, this differs from the other muscles in the quadriceps group at the front of the thigh due to it’s origin being above the hip; meaning that it acts on the hip joint as well as the knee.
So with the other quads only affecting knee movement, treatment of rectus femoris injuries can be a little trickier.
Often this means being away from the team for longer. This is in order to ensure that during the treatment period, the actions of the muscle on both the hip and the knee joints can be fully rehabilitated.
Like the hamstrings, trying to come back too soon after a thigh muscle injury of this type can lead to early recurrence. With all the injuries that Jesús has suffered in the past he’ll want to be extra careful and make sure he times his return to perfection.
But even with all those mentioned above staying back for treatment and rehab there are still no fewer that eleven Real Madrid players away this week. Despite that, Santiago Solari will still have more first team players around Valdebebas than he’ll have seen in a long time!