Luka Modrić has been ruled out for up to a month with a knee injury and Richard Martin considers how Real Madrid's midfield will adapt with Casemiro also sidelined.
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Real Madrid have been dealt another injury setback in midfield, with Luka Modrić expected to be out for up to a month with a knee injury.
The loss of one of Madrid's star performers in the early stage of the campaign will be especially keenly felt by the European champions after midfield anchor Casemiro was ruled out for up to seven weeks after suffering a fractured shin bone.
Modrić aggravated his knee during Madrid's thrilling 2-2 draw with Borussia Dortmund and is set to miss their Liga fixtures against Eibar, Real Betis, Athletic Club and Alavés as well as at the very least their next UEFA Champions League game at home to Legia Warszawa, along with Croatia's 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifiers against Kosovo and Finland. Casemiro is not expected to return until late November.
The good news for Real Madrid is they can count on a fully fit Isco, now recovered from the ankle injury which has limited him to just 53 minutes of action so far this campaign. The 24-year-old has been recalled to the Spain squad for the World Cup qualifiers with Italy and Albania, and is likely to feature heavily for Madrid in the coming month, beginning with Sunday's game with Eibar.
Madrid coach Zinédine Zidane stressed how important it was to have Isco back when the team need him the most.
"There's a reason he's been called up by Spain despite not playing much recently," the coach said. "I'm one of Isco's biggest fans, now he's fit and is an important player for us."
Toni Kroos looks set to continue in the holding midfield role he has assumed in the absence of Casemiro, while Modrić's compatriot Mateo Kovačić can fill in for the German and play the balancing role in the midfield three, or assume creative duties while his countryman is on the sidelines.
James Rodríguez is set to continue in the roaming midfield role, with healthy competition provided by Marco Asensio and Lucas Vázquez, ensuring Madrid are well prepared for the absence of even their most celebrated midfielder