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Real escape with hope of progress

What the papers say
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Pepe sidelined after ankle surgery

Real Madrid defender Pepe could face a month out of action after undergoing an operation on his ankle on Wednesday morning.

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Pepe, 29, complained of a pain in his ankle during training this week and the decision was taken quickly by Madrid's team doctors to send the centre-back for surgery.

A statement on Los Blancos' official website said: "Real Madrid player Pepe, after displaying problems with his right ankle, and after a medical examination, underwent surgery this morning in Oporto, with the operation carried out by Dr Van Dijk and the team at the Clinica Espregueira Mendes. The player underwent an arthroscopy on his ankle."

It is believed that Pepe will be sidelined for between three and four weeks as he recovers from the operation, with Madrid now unlikely to offload his compatriot Ricardo Carvalho - a reported target for AC Milan and QPR - in the January ransfer window.

Pepe was among several Madrid players absent from training on New Year's Day, with Raul Albiol, Fabio Coentrao and Marcelo also missing as they continued their respective recoveries from injury.

Striker Gonzalo Higuain was, however, present and looks likely to feature in the Primera Division clash with Real Sociedad at the Bernabeu on Sunday.

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