Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti said on Friday he is optimistic Karim Benzema can recover in time to play against Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League Last 16 first leg match on Tuesday.
Benzema’s absence would be a huge blow to Real Madrid, given the Frenchman has scored 27 goals in 33 games for them so far this season.
He has missed Madrid’s last two matches with a hamstring injury and will also sit out Saturday’s visit to Villarreal in La Liga.
Ancelotti said the 34-year-old is still training alone and is expected to resume work with the team on either Sunday or Monday, ahead of the crunch first leg in Paris.
“What we have are good feelings,” said Ancelotti in a press conference on Friday.
“He continues to work individually.
“We have to wait for him to start training with the team and he will do that on Sunday or Monday, then we will make the decision.
“So far I can’t say anything but the feelings of everyone — his, mine and those of the doctors — are good.”
Ancelotti said he would not push Benzema back before he is ready.
“Risk does not exist. If we think that Karim can play, he will play safely. If there is even a minimal risk, he will not play,” Ancelotti said.
Madrid sit six points clear of Sevilla at the top of La Liga but this weekend face a resurgent Villarreal side, whose six wins in their last eight league games have propelled them back into contention for the top four.
Ancelotti said Ferland Mendy will not be available but should be back in time to play against PSG.
He added that Gareth Bale, who has not featured for Madrid since August, has impressed in training.
“My personal relationship with Bale is very good,” Ancelotti said.
“Recently he has struggled a bit to be at his best physically but in the last few days I’ve seen a player training with intensity. From what I have seen, he is ready to play.”