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Real stars out of Spurs clash

Jose Mourinho has hinted that Real Madrid stars Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema will not be fit for Tuesday's Champions League quarter-final against Tottenham Hotspur.

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Speaking ahead of Saturday's La Liga clash with Sporting Gijon, Mourinho claimed Ronaldo, Benzema and Marcelo would not be available until next weekend game against Athletic Bilbao.

The news will come as big boost for Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp who is suffering a defensive injury crisis and is preparing to go into the game with just two fit centre-backs.

Mourinho said: "Cristiano, Marcelo and Benzema can only play in Bilbao.''

Ronaldo, Real's leading goalscorer, has been struggling with a hamstring injury while fellow forward Benzema, who is in a rich vein of form, picked up a slight thigh strain on France duty and full-back Marcelo suffered a blow to the ribs while training with Brazil.

On a brighter note for Madrid, Argentina striker Gonzalo Higuain could make an earlier-than-expected return following back surgery.

Higuain has been included in the squad for Saturday's game against Gijon, and Mourinho said: "His recovery is a positive surprise because we thought he may miss up to the final 15 games of the season and having him is important.''


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