Real Madrid centre-back Raphael Varane has handed Zinedine Zidane a much needed injury boost by returning to training ahead of the La Liga visit of Real Sociedad on Sunday (29 January). However, James Rodriguez, Dani Carvajal, Pepe, Marcelo, Luka Modric and long-term absentee Gareth Bale are all expected to miss the encounter with the Basque side after the six players failed to take part of the Friday's workout with the rest of the available teammates.
Los Blancos and Real Sociedad will face each other at the Santiago Bernabeu just days after being respectively knocked out from the Copa del Rey by Celta Vigo and Barcelona.
Real Madrid failed to overturn the 2-1 deficit from the first leg of the quarter-finals after being held by Celta to a 2-2 draw as Zidane was forced to deploy a weakened defence duo the injuries to Varane, Carvajal, Pepe and Marcelo. Midfielder Casemiro had to form part of the back-line alongside Sergio Ramos, Nacho and under-fire Danilo.
However, it looks that the Real Madrid boss will at least have the France centre-back available for the visit of Real Sociedad after he returned to training on Friday morning.
"Real Madrid were out in the rain to continue their preparations for this Sunday's LaLiga clash with Real Sociedad at the Santiago Bernabéu (8:45pm CET). Ball work dominated the session which saw Varane back training with the group," the club confirmed on its official website.
Varane had played the full 90 minutes during the weekend's 2-1 victory over Malaga but was surprisingly left-out of the squad to face Celta. The club failed to specify the reason behind Varane's absence but it looks that it was only a minor injury and he could be ready to return to action against Real Sociedad.
The news is a timely boost for Zidane after Real Madrid's impressive start to the season had been overshadowed by a recent dip in form. Yet, Los Blancos, who still have one game in hand in La Liga, are top of the table, one point ahead of Sevilla side and two over Barcelona but have only been able to win one of their last five games.
Varane's potential return should alleviate Zidane's problems in the back-line but the game with Real Sociedad will surely come too soon for James Rodriguez, Dani Carvajal, Pepe, Marcelo, Luka Modric and long-term absentee Gareth Bale.
"The Whites completed running exercises, various possession and pressuring drills and shots on goal. Carvajal, Bale, Modric, Pepe and Marcelo all continued with their respective recovery programmes, while James worked in the indoor facilities," Real Madrid added.