With Karim Benzema having missed Real Madrid’s last few games, Carlo Ancelotti has rubbished talk it is a precaution for France.
The experienced forward has not played since the 3-0 win over Elche in LaLiga nearly a fortnight ago, instead turning himself into a spectator on the sidelines for Los Blancos with a hamstring problem.
With the World Cup set to kick off later this month, Benzema – who was left out of Didier Deschamps’ Russia 2018 title-winning squad – is hoping to make it.
Ahead of Madrid’s Champions League clash with Celtic on Wednesday, Ancelotti ended discussions about the Ballon d’Or winner’s absence to facilitate a ticket to Qatar.
“Benzema didn’t play because he suffered a couple of injuries,” said the Italian. “He’s 34, takes care of himself and is in good shape.
“He just wasn’t available. I’m sure it has nothing to do with the World Cup because a player has to be fit and in good shape before a tournament like that.”
Ancelotti hinted that Benzema could return in midweek as Madrid look to consolidate top spot in Group F against their Scottish visitors at the Santiago Bernabeu.
“He’s training now,” he added. “I have to decide if he starts or if he starts in the game. It depends on how he feels.”
Benzema will be among the names Deschamps will almost certainly want to include when he picks his squad for the title defense next week.
France will no longer be without World Cup winner Paul Pogba after it was confirmed that the Juventus playmaker is behind his recovery schedule.