MADRID (Reuters) – Real Madrid are not going to risk aggravating injuries to players like James Rodriguez, Karim Benzema and Sergio Ramos by rushing them back even though they are close to full fitness, coach Rafa Benitez said on Friday.
Real host promoted Las Palmas in La Liga on Saturday and Benitez told a news conference he was confident his squad was deep enough to allow him to do without his injured regulars for one more match.
He will, however, be hoping to have some, or all, of them available when Real entertain Paris St Germain in Champions League Group A on Tuesday.
Rodriguez has not played since returning from international duty with Colombia with a thigh problem in September, Benzema damaged a hamstring playing for France this month and Ramos is recovering from a dislocated shoulder.
Benitez is also without Wales forward Gareth Bale, who has a calf injury, and told reporters goalkeeper Keylor Navas would miss the Las Palmas game as a precaution.
“Our priority is to do the best for (Real) Madrid and the players we have,” Benitez said.
“Keylor has muscle fatigue and we are not going to risk him or any of the others who are close to returning,” he added.
“We have a lot of matches left and we believe we have the resources to tackle the next game.”
Even a depleted Real should have little trouble dispatching Las Palmas, who are third from bottom and have a new coach in Quique Setien following this month’s sacking of Paco Herrera.
“I hope we see a good match, which we can win and which the fans can enjoy,” Benitez said.
“We have to impose our quality, desire and ambition to win,” added the former Valencia, Liverpool, Chelsea, Inter Milan and Napoli manager.
“It’s going to be a difficult game against a team with a new coach who will try to show his personality.”
Real are joint top on 21 points with Barcelona after nine matches, with the champions playing at Getafe on Saturday.
Third-placed Atletico Madrid can climb into first place with a win at Deportivo La Coruna later on Friday.
(Writing by Iain Rogers, editing by Toby Davis)