Pepe replaces the absent Sergio Ramos for Real Madrid’s visit of Sporting Gijon in La Liga this afternoon, but James Rodriguez remains a substitute.
The Portuguese comes into the heart of defence following a calf injury to the 29-year-old, in what is otherwise an unchanged team from last week’s 5-0 victory over Deportivo La Coruna and more disappointment for James – who has been linked with Manchester United this week.
Zinedine Zidane did his best to divert Madrid’s transfer ban before the game, although their problems pale in comparison to Sporting’s, with the Asturians having been unable to buy players since last January and star defender Bernardo Espinosa ruled out for seven months with knee ligament damage.
Real Madrid: Navas; Carvajal; Pepe, Varane, Marcelo; Kroos, Modric, Isco; Bale, Benzema, Ronaldo
Subs: James, Casilla, Casemiro, Kovacic, Arbeloa, Jese, Danilo
Sporting Gijon: Cuellar; Lora, Luis, Mere, Isma; Sergio, Cases; Jony, Halilovic, Menendez; Guerrero
Subs: Garcia, Guitian, Carmona, Sanabria, Perez, Rachid, Ndi
Referee: Undiano Mallenco