Zinedine Zidane believes Borja Mayoral is “ready” to make an impact for Real Madrid after calling the striker up for Saturday’s derby against Atletico Madrid.
Mayoral starred for Madrid’s Under-19 team on Tuesday as they dumped Manchester City out of the UEFA Youth League and could appear for the seniors when they host their arch-rivals this weekend, and Zidane is backing the teenager to prove his worth.
“We know Marcelo has a calf problem, so we must be careful with him,” he said at a Press conference.
“He didn’t train [on Friday] and won’t be with us. Pepe trained but [Gareth] Bale is still apart [from the squad]. The rest are fine.
“[On Saul Niguez’s claim he was mistreated as a Madrid youth player], I’m only thinking about the game.
“I’ve been fine at Madrid. If something happened to Saul then I’m sorry, but it’s been fine for me.
“[On replacing Marcelo], Danilo is perfect, like the others, and working well.
“The only thing is that so far I’ve played others [instead of him].
“He’s an important player for me. I’m happy with what he’s done, but I have to make decisions and I’ll see if he plays [on Saturday].
“[Karim Benzema] is very important for our team, he no longer feels any problems and is able to do as he likes.
“The important thing for us is that beyond his goals he contributes a lot.
“He links up with his teammates well and I only ask that he’s motivated. He’s scoring but also playing well.
“I’m happy with Isco’s work. It’s clear that he needs to improve on his goal and assist count, but he’s the first who knows.
“[Diego Simeone] is a very important Coach for his team.
“I liked him very much as a player and like him as a Coach, and his team is very competitive.
“[Borja] Mayoral will be in the squad. He has played for our youth teams and Castilla and is training very well. He’s ready to play with [the first team].
“[On James Rodriguez], it’s a very complicated answer.
“What I have to do is make decisions. He’s giving his all in training and games.
“I was also a player. Sometimes things go well one day and bad the other…
“Still, the important thing is attitude and I’m very proud of my players’ attitude.
“Honestly, no matter what happens, we won’t drop our heads until it’s too late.
“There are still points at stake. It’ll be more difficult if we drop points, but we have enough games left.
“We also have to be focused on the Champions League. Our season can’t end [on Saturday].”
Madrid squad for Atleti in full: Navas, Casilla, Yanez; Varane, Ramos, Nacho, Carvajal, Danilo; Kroos, James, Casemiro, Kovacic, Modric, Isco; Ronaldo, Benzema, Jese, Vazquez, Mayoral