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Villa tops Audi Player Index in win vs. Fire

Five Aside

Casillas facing lengthy absence

Iker Casillas faces a long spell on the sidelines with a fractured bone in his hand, caused by an accidental kick from his team-mate Alvaro Arbeloa during Real Madrid's 1-1 Copa del Rey quarter-final second leg at Valencia on Wednesday night.

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Back-up keeper Antonio Adan is now certain to play in next week's semi-final first leg - against either Barcelona or Malaga at the Estadio Bernabeu - and likely to also feature at home to Manchester United in the Champions League round of 16 on February 13. Casillas would appear unlikely to return for the Copa semi-final second leg in late February and the second leg against United at Old Trafford. The next La Liga meeting against Barcelona at the Bernabeu is in early March.

Adan, whose presence in the side ahead of club captain Casillas has been criticised recently, was at fault for Valencia's goal on Wednesday night, but it was ultimately of little use to Los Che, who exited 1-3 on aggregate.

On the squad's return to Madrid in the early hours of the morning, Casillas went directly to hospital for tests, with the club releasing the results later on Thursday.

"After completing the first X-ray tests at the Hospital Sanitas La Moraleja it has been confirmed that the player Iker Casillas suffered a fracture at the base of his first metacarpal of his left hand," the club statement said. "It will be evaluated again later today by the specialist to decide the course of treatment."

Former Madrid head of medical services Alfonso del Corral told Marca that Casillas would most likely be out for six to eight weeks.

"Less than two months is difficult," Del Corral said. "A football goalkeeper must be able to fall on his hand and face shots at more than 100 kilometres per hour. He must let his hands strengthen without any type of risk."

Madrid president Florentino Perez, speaking at a press conference on Thursday to deny a report about Jose Mourinho's future, declined to speak about whether the club would sign a goalkeeper to cover the absence of Casillas, saying that anything he said would likely be twisted in the following day's papers.

Before leaving the Mestalla on Wednesday night, Casillas had described the incident which led to the injury.

"There was a loose ball - Alvaro has gone to clear it and he has caught me on the hand," Casillas said. "After the knock I knew something was wrong. I am in a bit of pain. The doctor does not want to make any hasty judgements. He has seen something he does not like. When I tried to close my fist I felt that it hurt. It was just the thumb, and the fact that it has nothing to do with the wrist is good. I will try to be fit as soon as possible. The team and the fact that we have qualified for the next round is what is really important."

Speaking after the game, Madrid youth product Adan, 25, was not keen to dwell on his mistake in letting Tino Costa's free-kick slip under his body for Valencia's goal, instead saying he was up to whatever challenges he had to face.

"It was not an easy game, against a great opponent," Adan said. "If I am in the squad and play games, it is because the boss thinks that I am ready. If I have to play I am ready."


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