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Chelsea out to maul Black Cats

Chelsea 9 hours ago
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Jan 11, 2013

Madrid missing suspended trio

Real Madrid manager Jose Mourinho must travel to Osasuna in La Liga on Saturday without the suspended Sergio Ramos, Cristiano Ronaldo and Antonio Adan, although Xabi Alonso is expected to be available despite a neck problem.

• Real fans want Benitez

Ramos begins the five-game suspension he was handed for insulting referee Miguel Angel Ayza Gomez during Wednesday's 4-0 Copa del Rey victory over Celta Vigo at the Bernabeu.

Ronaldo picked up his fifth yellow card of the season in last Sunday's 4-3 win over Real Sociedad, during which Adan was sent off for an early professional foul.

Speaking to reporters after Friday's training session at Madrid's Valdebebas facility, striker Gonzalo Higuain said Los Blancos had a strong enough squad to win without the missing players.

"They are all important players, but we cannot think about the absences," Higuain said. "We have players to do well and we will go out to show that.

"It is always difficult to play there. It is a tough ground, and Osasuna will make things difficult for us. We need the points. We will aim to do our best."

The Argentina international said the Ramos incident had happened in the heat of the moment and would hopefully not happen again. He added that players should accept refereeing decisions even if they did not agree with them.

"Sergio apologised," Higuain said. "During a game things get heated, and we hope it does not happen again.

"He is an important player for us. We know the professional he is, and we will try and make sure it does not happen again. These are decisions that referees take, and I cannot get into them. They make the calls, and you must respect that."

Adan's absence means club captain Iker Casillas is certain to start in goal, while Mourinho is likely to go for a mixture of youth and experience in central defence by pairing Ricardo Carvalho, 34, and Raphael Varane, 19 - although fit again Raul Albiol is another option.

Either Fabio Coentrao or Marcelo is likely to replace Michael Essien, with Alvaro Arbeloa returning to his more favoured right-back position.

Alonso continues to receive treatment for the neck injury that saw him withdrawn at half-time against Celta and leave the ground after the game wearing a brace, but the ex-Liverpool man is expected to take his usual place in deep midfield.

Further forward, Mourinho could start both Angel di Maria and Higuain after both appeared as substitutes on Wednesday.

Higuain, who has not started for Madrid since injuring a thigh muscle against Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League on November 11, said he was optimistic that he could add to his seven goals in 11 La Liga appearances this weekend.

"Hopefully this will be the game when I am back on the scoresheet," he said. "I feel well physically, and for me that is important. I hope, when it is my turn to play, that I can score."

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