Selection headache for Mourinho
Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho faces further selection dilemmas ahead of Sunday's La Liga trip to Real Mallorca, with Sami Khedira, Alvaro Arbeloa, Fabio Coentrao and Marcelo all ruled out.
Reports in the Spanish media on Thursday evening claimed that Khedira would miss two to three weeks after aggravating a hamstring problem during Wednesday's 2-1 Champions League defeat at Borussia Dortmund.
The German midfielder, who was returning from the injury picked up during his country's 6-1 World Cup qualifying win in Ireland earlier this month, lasted only 19 minutes against the Bundesliga side and is to be examined by Madrid's medical staff on Friday.
Real's three specialist full-backs - Arbeloa, Coentrao and Marcelo - are all also currently unavailable, with Arbeloa reportedly targeting Real Zaragoza's visit to the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on November 3 for his comeback from a thigh strain, and Coentrao expected to return from his adductor problem in the return Champions League group tie against Dortmund three days later.
This leaves Mourinho likely keeping Michael Essien out of position at left-back against Mallorca, with Luka Modric in central midfield, although the clamour in the Madrid media to give a home-grown defender such as Nacho an opportunity is unlikely to die down, given the on loan Chelsea midfielder's struggles against Dortmund's Marco Reus on Wednesday evening.
When asked about Khedira's injury immediately after the Dortmund game, Mourinho said he knew on the return from the last international break that the absences would have an effect on his team.
"It is difficult to answer," he said. "I do not like talking about injured players. What I can do is remember what I said at the press conference before (last weekend's) Celta match. The price was yet to be paid."