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Injuries to key players might be a difficult obstacle to overcome

Zidane could be missing Luka Modrić, Marcelo and Toni Kroos for several important games that lie ahead

Levante v Real Madrid - La Liga Photo by Manuel Queimadelos Alonso/Getty Images

As if the knee injury sustained by Toni Kroos wasn’t enough, Real Madrid returned from Sevilla with enough concerns over Marcelo’s hamstring injury to take the shine off an otherwise efficient performance. Now it appears that Luka Modrić will definitely miss the next few games with a hamstring injury as well.

The latest injury to Marcelo, picked up towards the end of the first half against Betis, led to the Brazilian’s substitution although it did look at one point as though Marcelo himself was keen to play on when it was obvious that he was in trouble.

Zidane wasn’t having any of it though, and off came Marcelo to take his place on the bench with an ice pack.

It wasn’t the only injury on the night either. Nacho took a hefty knock in the dying seconds of the game and was still having treatment on the pitch as some of the players made their way towards the tunnel.

Finally, he got to his feet and hobbled off; but he’s going to be sore for a day or so. Modern shinpads offer greater protection nowadays than they did ten years ago, but unfortunately they still only protect the area they cover.

Until that point, Zidane’s obvious concern was over Marcelo. With Toni Kroos already ruled out for the next few weeks with a ligamentous injury to the left knee, the injury to Marcelo is a worry.

Despite Marcelo’s quote after the game that the injury “feels like a knock”, the mechanics of the injury told a different story. Marcelo looked to pull up clutching the back of his thigh and the nearest Betis player was a good few feet away.

Marcelo was clearly hobbling by the time he got to his feet; and this won’t be the first time he’s sustained an injury to the hamstring region.

That’s now been officially confirmed by the Madrid medical team; and when added to lower back problems a couple of seasons ago together with a history of hamstring muscle injuries as well, it looks as though Marcelo’s going to be out of action for some time.

Real Madrid’s medical statement gives the injury as indeed an injury to the biceps femoris muscle; which is one of the hamstring group. Care needs to be taken with his rehabilitation, particularly in the early days when the stage is set for maximising the healing process through minimal aggravation of the injury

Marcelo’s recovery - as the club states in the medical report - will continue to be assessed.

Also missing with a similar injury is Luka Modrić. Real’s Croatian midfielder has been receiving treatment on a hamstring injury since last week; and now the club have issued an official report; again citing an injury to the biceps femoris muscle.

Like Marcelo’s injury, no specific recovery date has been suggested; and as the update states, his progress will continue be assessed as well.

Trying to anticipate when players are likely to return from muscular injuries is usually futile. The recovery periods aren’t set in stone and every player will respond differently to treatment. Timeframes usually associated with these injuries can only ever be regarded as guidelines.

The same applies to Toni Kroos. Although injuries to the lateral collateral ligament (LCL) of the knee are less frequent in football than injuries to the medial, or inner side, of the knee, accurate estimates of recovery periods are hard to gauge.

Of concern to the medics, however, will be that with the exception of minor tweaks, ligamentous injuries to the knee are rarely confined to just one single structure. Meniscal lesions and other associated injuries can often accompany what may appear at first to be a relatively straight-forward sprain.

Structurally, the LCL is thin and strong, easily palpated on the outside of the knee with the limb slightly bent, but able to withstand considerable forces.

Like all structures, though, it’s all about forces and angles. If the force of the challenge that led to the injury on the night was strong enough, and if the knee was at the angle where the tension in the ligament was at its greatest, then something was bound to give.

As always, Real Madrid wasted no time in initiating the usual investigations; and treatment for Toni will have been started right away.

Ligamentous injuries like these vary in their response but much will depend on the actual severity of the injury. The report issued by the club made no reference to the extent of the injury; therefore it is difficult to make any attempts to predict how long the German midfielder will be unavailable for.

Toni Kroos doesn’t tend to be injured too often; so it’s impossible to generalise as to whether he’s a quick healer or not when it comes down to injuries of this nature.

As with Luka Modrić and Marcelo, we’ll just have to wait and see how Toni manages with his rehabilitation over the next week or so.

Both hamstring and knee injuries occur commonly enough in football as we all know; so at least the medical people will be able to give a very rough estimate of when the three players are likely to make a return to training; but anything more accurate than that will depend on progress.

Returning to full match fitness will follow provided there are no setbacks.

I know it’s not ideal; but all we can do is watch and wait. Zinedine Zidane will definitely make changes against Leganés; it’s just that some of these are now going to be forced upon him.

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