Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane has bemoaned the injuries of Casemiro and Marcelo after the duo were ruled out of the La Liga trip to Las Palmas on Saturday (24 September). The game will also come too early for Pepe and Fabio Coentrao, but long-term absentee Keylor Navas is ready to return to action for the first time since last season. Additionally, youngster Mariano was left out the 19-man squad as the team have all their first-choice attacking options available.
Casemiro was badly missed in the 1-1 draw with Villarreal during the week after suffering a knock during the previous match with Espanyol. However, worse news came on Thursday when Real Madrid revealed the midfielder had fractured his left fibula, ruling him out for up to two months.
The news is a big blow for Zidane as he has no other recognised specialist in the role throughout his squad. However, the Frenchman is convinced that Los Blancos will find a way to cope without the Brazilian midfielder, with Toni Kroos expected to cover the role.
"Things won't be different because our idea is always the same regardless of who plays," Zidane said. "Not having the same player may change something but the idea remains the same: look for the ball, play in opposition territory... Our idea is always the same, whoever is playing."
Marcelo is also set to miss the coming games with Las Palmas, Borussia Dortmund and Eibar after he suffered a "grade 2 muscle strain in the soleus muscle of his right calf" during the draw with Villarreal.
"I'm always concerned when someone picks up an injury. Marcelo and Casemiro are two players who were starting games. We can't do anything about the injuries now," Zidane added. "I hope it's not too serious and that we'll have them back quickly. We've got a big squad and we can make changes. I know who will come in tomorrow."
The Brazilian left-back absence is a big concern for Zidane as Coentrao, the other left-back in his squad, continues to build up to match fitness following a long spell on the sidelines. The Portuguese left-back has consequently been omitted from the 19-man squad for the trip to Las Palmas. However, Keylor Navas is available for selection for the first time this term, although it is still uncertain whether he will be ready to regain the number one role ahead of Kiko Casilla.
Zidane said: "Keylor will be in the squad, he's going to travel with us. Fabio is back training normally and he could be on the list. He's OK, but perhaps he'll be a bit off the pace, which is normal after five or six months. He's fine, here's nearly there. You'll see if he's at 100% when he's back in the team, but he's in good spirits."
"We all know he's important for us, as are Kiko and Ruben. He's a great goalkeeper. We'll see how we sort things out. Keylor is a crucial player for us, just as Kiko is. I'll speak to both of them to see how we're going to organise things. You might think that rotation doesn't happen for goalkeepers, but as far as I see it, it can happen just the same as for outfield players."
These latest injury concerns are the last thing Zidane needs, following Real dropping their first points of the campaign against Villarreal on Wednesday. However, the Frenchman is convinced his boys will get back to winning ways against Las Palmas.
Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema have been singled out for criticism recently, with the BBC trident barely threatening against the Yellow Submarine. Some fans have called for big names to be dropped in favour of Alvaro Morata and Lucas Vazquez.
But Zidane added: "I think the BBC look good. They can get better, of course. Even if all three of them get a goal in a match, they can still do better because they could score two or three. I'm happy with what they're doing, but I can't be pleased with the first half of the last game. But that goes for everyone, not only two or three players. I'm never going to pick out one player in particular. The BBC are getting better every day. It's true that we demand a lot from them and they know what we expect."
"We're going to need everyone. There are 60 games and we're going to need the whole squad, not just Morata and Karim. Mariano's here too and he may get the chance at the right moment. There are others who can play in that position. Karim is back and I'm pleased with that."