La Liga: Real Betis v Real Madrid preview
By James Kilpatrick
Last Updated: 25/01/16 10:54am
Real Madrid are without Gareth Bale for their game against Real Betis on Sunday evening.
The Wales international suffered a recurrence of a calf problem in the 5-1 home victory over Sporting Gijon last weekend and is facing up to three weeks on the sidelines.
Coach Zinedine Zidane, who takes charge of his third game since replacing Rafa Benitez, could turn to James Rodriguez as his replacement after claiming he was 'ready to play if selected'.
The forward suffered a thigh injury playing for Colombia in September and has struggled for form since returning to action at the end of October.
"You will see tomorrow but he (Rodriguez) had a very good week in training like all the players," Zidane told a news conference ahead of the game in Seville.
"I am very happy with what he is doing and he is working very hard," added the former Real and France midfielder. "We know what an important player he is for the team. We will see tomorrow if he starts, but he is ready to play."
Zidane dismissed media reports that Rodriguez may be short of fitness due to his love of the night life in the Spanish capital.
"They annoy me but we have to ignore the rumours," he said. "He told me he is relaxed and the important thing for him is to focus on his work. The idea is to get him on top form and make sure he is prepared for what lies ahead."
Real are third in La Liga with just over half the season played, two points adrift of second-placed champions Barcelona, who play at Malaga on Saturday.
Zidane confirmed that captain Sergio Ramos will again miss out on Sunday due to a calf problem despite returning to training.