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Hazard to return for Real Madrid v Elche, says Zidane

FOOTBALL By Reuters | December 29th 2020
June 13, 2019 Real Madrid's Eden Hazard during the presentation [REUTERS]

Eden Hazard will return to the Real Madrid side for Wednesday's La Liga match away to Elche after over a month out injured, coach Zinedine Zidane has said.

Real's record signing has only been able to make three league starts this season and has not featured since injuring his hamstring in a November defeat to Alaves. His last campaign was blighted by two serious ankle injuries.

"Eden will be there tomorrow and our plan is for him to play a bit," Zidane told a news conference on Tuesday.

"The other day we decided not to but we want him to play and to make the most of him."

Hazard's return comes at the right time for Madrid, who are expected to be without Brazilian forward Rodrygo for up to three months after injuring his hamstring in the 2-0 win over Granada before the Christmas break.

Real are second in the standings and level on points with leaders Atletico Madrid, who have two games in hand.

Zidane's side are on a run of six consecutive wins in all competitions, which has coincided with him rotating his squad to a lesser extent than at the start of the campaign, when the team suffered as a result and lost five matches in three months.

The French coach conceded that his recent team selections demanded more of his players but said there was no increased risk of injuries.

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He added it was hard to repeatedly leave out long-serving players such as Marcelo and Isco, but does not want to let either of them go in the January transfer window.

"It hurts me because they want to play, and when you think about everything we have lived through with Marcelo and Isco. It's difficult, it's the downside of being a coach but one I have to deal with," he said.

"I count on all my players and I can assure you they are still very motivated and train very well."

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