Apr 2, 2011

Real trio ruled out of Spurs game

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Real Madrid boss Jose Mourinho says Cristiano Ronaldo will not play in the first-leg Champions League quarter-final tie against Tottenham next week.

The forward is struggling with a hamstring injury, while striker Karim Benzema has sustained a thigh problem and full-back Marcelo has sore ribs.

Mourinho said the trio will not be available until 9 April when his team play Athletic Bilbao.

"That is what the reports that the medical staff say," said Mourinho.

"If they were available they would play [against Sporting Gijon]. Saturday's match is more decisive than next week's against Tottenham because the latter is the best of two.

"If we don't win the first we still have a chance in the second.

"It will only get harder if we lose points at home. La Liga will be lost if we lose [against Gijon]. If we lose on Tuesday we can still win the following week.

"I cannot rest or bench players like [Mesut] Ozil, [Angel] Di Maria or [Ricardo] Carvalho. I cannot make any more changes."

Benzema and Marcelo sustained their injuries on international duty during the week - for France and Brazil respectively - while Ronaldo, who has scored 37 goals for Real in all competitions in his second season at the Bernabeu, missed Portugal's match against Finland.

But Mourinho has been boosted by the sooner-than-expected return of striker Gonzalo Higuain following back surgery.

The Argentina striker has been included in Real's squad to face Gijon on Saturday, the first time he has featured since November.

"His recovery is a positive surprise because we thought he may miss up to the final 15 games of the season and having him is important," added Mourinho.

"Not even with the best estimate would we expect him to return to playing so soon. We're very happy."



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