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Real facing injury crisis

Injury problems continue to mount for Real Madrid boss Jose Mourinho, whose two senior centre-forwards, Gonzalo Higuain and Karim Benzema, are now serious doubts for the trip to Levante on Sunday.

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Higuain suffered a problem in his right thigh muscle early in Tuesday's 2-2 Champions League Group D draw with Borussia Dortmund, and was withdrawn at half-time. With Benzema already unavailable after injuring an adductor muscle in training on Monday, Mourinho was forced to introduce winger Jose Callejon and rejig his attack.

And he took the opportunity to lament his lack of attacking options when speaking with reporters at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on Tuesday night.

"We were losing, and then we lost Higuain," Mourinho said. "We do not have another centre-forward on the bench and we needed to come back. We did not have many attacking options, but we managed it. I do not believe that either of the two (Higuain or Benzema) will be available for Sunday."

With Real trailing Dortmund 1-2 at half-time Mourinho also opted to introduce Michael Essien for 45 minutes, despite the on-loan midfielder having been originally left on the bench as he had missed training recently with a foot problem. Sergio Ramos played the full game against the Bundesliga side, but he has not taken a full part in training for two weeks as he manages a gluteus (buttock) muscle strain.

Sami Khedira is also unlikely to feature against Levante as he continues to recover from a hamstring injury originally picked up for Germany against the Republic of Ireland and then aggravated in the reverse Champions League fixture against Dortmund on October 24. Real's two left-backs, Marcelo and Fabio Coentrao, also remain sidelined with injuries picked up with their national teams.

Madrid's regular right-back Alvaro Arbeloa, who played on the left side on Tuesday, and was caught out of position for Marco Reus' opening goal, said that the absences were hurting, but the team must make the best of the resources which were available.

"It is obvious that Marcelo is one of the best players in the world, and his absence is always noticeable," the former Liverpool defender said. "You would notice it less if Fabio Coentrao was not missing too, because he is a great player. But we need to go on with those that we have available."

Mourinho may now choose to call upon the only traditional centre-forward in his squad, youth product Alvaro Morata, 20, for the Levante game. Morata, who has starred at under-age level for Spain, has just 24 minutes of substitute action for the Madrid first-team this season, but has scored two goals in four starts for Madrid Castilla in the second division.


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