Eden Hazard is set to make his long-awaited return from injury when Real Madrid host Celta Vigo on Sunday.
The Belgian has been restricted to just 13 appearances in all competitions this season, with a foot injury keeping him sidelined since a meeting with Paris Saint-Germain in November. He returned to training last week and was expected to travel to face Osasuna, but was left at home.
However, as noted by Marca, the long wait to see Hazard again is set to come to an end as Zinedine Zidane is prepared to include the former Chelsea star in his squad to face Celta.
He is expected to be named on the bench and will likely only feature for a few minutes towards the end of the game, with Zidane determined not to rush Hazard’s return as he does not want to risk aggravating the injury.
The boss is thought to be concerned that Hazard may not yet be physically strong enough to cope with the demands of consistent football, so he is taking things very slowly.
For Real, the problem is that they want Hazard back at full fitness by the time they face Manchester City in the Champions League on 26 February.
Unfortunately, with Hazard likely to only play minor roles in upcoming league games against Celta and Levante, it seems highly unlikely that he would be ready to face Pep Guardiola’s side in just a few weeks.
Real are desperate to avoid another early elimination from Europe, having been utterly humiliated by Ajax at this stage of the competition last season, but Zidane is adamant that Hazard’s fitness will not be risked.
The 29-year-old, who joined from Chelsea for an initial €100m, is yet to really hit the heights which many expected of him. He has managed just one goal and four assists in all competitions, so there is real pressure on both him and Zidane to find a solution.
A starring performance against City would have certainly done the trick, but that seems incredibly unlikely at this point in time.
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