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Madrid Derby: Rodriguez Out But Ramos And Bale Fit

atletico-madrid-vs-real-madridReal Madrid will be without James Rodriguez for Sunday’s derby with Atletico Madrid, but Sergio Ramos and Gareth Bale are available.

Marca had reported this week that James was recovering from his thigh injury ahead of schedule and would be back for the derby, but he was absent from the team’s final training session ahead of the trip to the Vicente Calderon.

“The idea was to have him ready as soon as possible [but] he’s not fit,” coach Rafa Benitez told his prematch news conference on Saturday.

However, Ramos returned to training on Friday after a dislocated shoulder and was joined by Bale, who has missed the club’s last three games with a calf injury.

“Both players have been back in training and have the medical all-clear,” Benitez said. “As for whether they play in the starting lineup, we will make that decision tomorrow.

“I’ve spoken with both players, and of course they are anxious to participate.”

The coach said he was also weighing up whether to start summer signing Mateo Kovacic or Toni Kroos in midfield.

“I felt Toni played well the other day. From my perspective, I’d say he’s physically and tactically in decent shape,” he said.

“Another factor is his decision making. The fact that we can have this Toni or Kovacic debate is good for me.”

With Barcelona’s surprising defeat art Sevilla on Saturday, Real have a chance to open up a two point gap on their rival.