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Sport

Zidane confirms Ramos to return for Clasico showdown

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - Champions League - Round of 16 Second Leg - Manchester City v Real Madrid - Etihad Stadium, Manchester, Britain - August 7, 2020 Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane during the match, as play resumes behind closed doors following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) Pool via REUTERS/Peter Powell

MADRID (Reuters) - Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane confirmed that capain Sergio Ramos is set to return from injury when they take on rivals Barcelona in El Clasico in La Liga on Saturday.

Ramos went off at halftime in Madrid’s 1-0 La Liga defeat by minnows Cadiz last weekend and was also absent as they crumbled to a depleted Shakhtar Donetsk side on Wednesday in the Champions League. However, he took a full part in training on Friday.

“He’s our captain, our leader. He’s over his injury, but obviously we won’t take any risks. He’ll be with us, you need players who are 100% fit and Sergio is,” Zidane told a news conference.

Despite welcoming back Ramos, Real will be without a number of first team regulars for the trip to the Nou Camp, including Eden Hazard, Dani Carvajal, Alvaro Odriozola and Martin Odegaard.

Zidane has come under intense scrutiny over the last week, with some reports suggesting his job might be at risk should they taste defeat in Catalonia, however the Frenchman insisted he has the full backing of his players and the club’s board.

“I’ve won a lot with these players, they’ve won a lot for me and I’ll always be with them until the end, it’s they who battle, run and fight and I can feel their support,” he said.

“But right now the most important thing is changing the dynamic, and we’ve got good games coming up to be able to do that in, and that’s what makes football so great. When things go wrong, you need to show your character and quality.

“... I can’t deny people are saying my future is at stake, but it was the same last year and it was like that in my first spell here, too. I just need to do my job and forget about everything else.”

Barcelona, meanwhile, have the returning Jordi Alba available for the game, but will be without long-term absentees Marc-Andre ter Stegen and Samuel Umtiti.

Reporting by Joseph Cassinelli; Editing by Christian Radnedge

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