Eden Hazard will make his comeback from injury as Real Madrid face Elche on Wednesday, Zinedine Zidane has confirmed.
Hazard hasn’t played since suffering a thigh strain in Madrid’s 2-1 defeat to Deportivo Alaves at the end of November.
The Belgian has only made six appearances in all competitions so far this season, and is yet to complete 90 minutes in 2020-21.
A combination of injuries and a positive coronavirus test have kept him out of action as his time at the Santiago Bernabeu continues to frustrate.
Hazard only managed 22 appearances last season and, while there have been flashes of brilliance, the 29-year-old has failed to replicate the form which earned him his €100 million (£88m/$112m) move from Chelsea in 2019.
But, with Madrid chasing down top spot in La Liga, Zidane says the Belgian will be back on the pitch – for a short while at least.
“Eden will be available tomorrow and we’d like him to just play a little bit,” Zidane said in his pre-match press conference.
“The other day (against Granada) we decided against it but we want him to play tomorrow because he’s been back with the team for a while and we want to take advantage of Eden’s ability.”
Zidane also says he feels the pain of out-of-favour pair Isco and Marcelo. Both have struggled for playing time this season and have been linked with moves away in the January transfer window.
“I feel their pain when they don’t play because they are footballers, and they want to play just like everyone else,” Zidane said.
“They’ve both done so much here and it’s a tough situation but it’s the worst part of being a coach. It’s my responsibility and that won’t change until my final day. It’s a difficult spell.”
With the Elche game coming as Madrid’s final match of 2020, Zidane took a moment to reflect on a tumultuous year.
“We’re happy and feel grateful to be able to play football because there are people who are having a terrible time with the virus. I think about them a lot and let’s hope this becomes just a bad memory and everything starts getting better soon.
“On a sporting level, we’ll try and keep doing the best we can. We’ve got another long, tough year ahead.”
Madrid are level on points with city rivals Atletico at the top of La Liga, but Diego Simeone’s side have two games in hand.