Karim Benzema

Carlo Ancelotti has not ruled out the possibility of Karim Benzema returning for the Madrid derby in eight days time. The French forward pulled up with a thigh problem against Celtic on Tuesday night, with the initial diagnosis reported as around two weeks out.

It does appear that he will miss at least Real Madrid’s upcoming two fixtures against Real Mallorca and RB Leipzig. Ancelotti confirmed that it would be Eden Hazard who would replace him against the former, which takes place at 14:00 CEST.

Asked during his pre-match press conference whether Benzema’s fitness would be forced for the Madrid derby and whether he would then be joining France on international duty, Ancelotti was non-committal.

“We will see if Benzema can play the derby on Sunday. If not he will not go with France.”

Previously, Ancelotti was asked if he was concerned about playing without him.

“They are things that can happen to footballers. Last year he also had a small problem in December and I think that we covered him well. Without him the team played well against Celtic.”

Before commenting that there was no ‘natural’ replacement for the Ballon d’Or favourite.

“A natural replacement for Karim we do not have, because he is the best forward in the world. There is no substitute for him on the market, but you can substitute him with players with different characteristics.”

The Italian manager also confirmed that Thibaut Courtois had trained normally after missing the previous two days of training, implying he should be fit to face Mallorca.

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