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Injury problems mount for Mourinho

Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho faces a mounting injury crisis ahead of Saturday's La Liga home game against Celta Vigo and Borussia Dortmund's Champions League visit on Wednesday.

• Blog: Madrid's headache

Full-back Alvaro Arbeloa and striker Karim Benzema both limped out of Tuesday's World Cup qualifier between France and Spain, while forward Gonzalo Higuain was substituted during the second half of Argentina's 2-1 win in Chile with an ankle knock.

Initial reports in Madrid said Arbeloa's injury was the most serious, and it is particularly badly-timed because Real's current first choice left-back, Marcelo, is unlikely to play again this year after breaking a bone in his foot while training with Brazil on Sunday.

Marca reported that Arbeloa would be out for three weeks with a hamstring strain. His fellow full-back Fabio Coentrao faces a month on the sidelines after suffering a groin injury during Portugal's loss in Russia last Friday.

But there was better news for Madrid fans, with the injuries to Higuain and Benzema appearing to be less serious.

The Argentine striker tweeted: "With respect to the knock, luckily it is just a bang, not a big thing." Benzema told reporters he was "fine" after the Spain-France game.

Both will be assessed when they join up with their club-mates ahead of the Celta game on Saturday.

Manchester City's David Silva and Liverpool's Pepe Reina also suffered injuries during Spain's game, and the Spanish FA released a short statement asaying it had been in touch with their clubs to communicate what had happened.

"The medical services of their clubs have been informed, the tests which are considered necessary will be carried out," the statement said.

Spain coach Vicente Del Bosque appeared to blame the pitch at Atletico Madrid's ground for so many players suffering muscle problems on the night - something that impacted on his substitutions in the game, which Spain let slip after appearing to be in control in the first half.

Marcelo, who is to undergo his metatarsal operation in Amsterdam on Friday, sent a message via the Madrid website on Tuesday to thank fans for their support and say he would be back as soon as possible.

"I am going to do everything properly to return to play with the team," he said "This is not enough to get anyone down, least of all me. I am always a cheerful person.

"It has happened, I cannot change it, but now I have to work hard to get back to playing."

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