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Jan, 29, 2013

Lopez looking forward to Real debut

New Real Madrid goalkeeper Diego Lopez says he is delighted to have returned to the club and is looking forward to making his second debut - most likely to be in Wednesday's Copa del Rey semi-final first leg against Barcelona at the Bernabeu.

Madrid face a testing schedule which includes three clashes with their Catalan rivals and also the two last-16 Champions League ties against Manchester United in the coming weeks. After captain Iker Casillas was ruled out for three months with a fractured finger last week, the club moved quickly to sign Lopez from Sevilla for €3.5 million.

Madrid coach Jose Mourinho chose to stick with Antonio Adan for Sunday's 4-0 Primera Division win over Getafe, but could now choose Lopez's greater experience to face Lionel Messi, Andres Iniesta, Xavi Hernandez and company at the Bernabeu.

Lopez, who had lost his place at Sevilla to veteran Andres Palop, 39, said he was ready to play, and looking forward to battling for a starting spot.

"I am here to give it my all from the beginning," he said. "[Madrid] came to me for a reason. I am prepared and ready to play whenever the manager needs me. I am relaxed about that situation and confident that I will have a chance to play. I am thinking about the day to day, Wednesday's game and helping the team and being prepared for whenever the manager needs me and gives me the opportunity. That is what I have always done and what I will continue to do. There are currently two keepers. I feel for Iker with his injury, but between the two of us we have to solve the problem and help the team."

Lopez, now 31, joined Madrid's youth set-up from Lugo in 2000. After making his senior debut in 2006, he spent two seasons as an understudy to Casillas before joining Villarreal for €6 million in 2007, and then moving to Sevilla last summer.

The one-cap Spanish international said he was delighted to be returning to the Bernabeu, and claimed he was a much better keeper now than when he left.

"I am returning to the club which has run through my veins since I was young," he said. "Everyone has treated me with affection and I have come across so many familiar faces. I am now an experienced player. Many things have changed since I left. I have many Primera Division and European games under my belt. That reassures me and makes me confident in my abilities and strengths as a player. I know what I can bring to the team. When Real Madrid sign a player, they trust him and I think that means something."

Lopez said he did not know enough to comment directly on the recent battle for the starting spot between Casillas and Adan, but generally speaking having competition for places at a club was no harm.

"I have been an outsider looking in," he said. "When a change is made, it is the decision of the coach and you should always respect his decision because he is the boss. Iker has obviously earned everything he has achieved, but football is about the present and we must all be on our toes. No-one can afford to lose their focus."

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