Karanka thrilled with Casillas return

Los Blancos’ skipper has been named in the squad to face Levante following surgery on a hand injury, and his former team-mate is delighted to have him back in contention to play

Real Madrid assistant coach Aitor Karanka has expressed his delight at Iker Casillas’ return to the first-team squad.

The World Cup-winner underwent surgery on a hand injury picked up in January, with Diego Lopez brought in as additional cover between the posts for the intervening period.

Lopez has impressed with a string of fine displays recently, suggesting that club captain Casillas may be forced to settle for a place on the bench when he is fit to return, but Karanka was simply thrilled to have the 31-year-old available once more.

“Iker is very competitive and he will be on the list for tomorrow’s game,” Karanka told a press conference.

“He has improved physically and we want players who are 100 per cent. He has been doing special training.

“Yesterday we played 11 in training and he did very well. We are happy he is back, especially now in these last two months of the season. We have the final of the Copa del Rey and the quarter-finals of the champions league and hopefully the semi-finals too.

“To have all the players available in a team as good as ours is great. We have decisions to make regarding Pepe and [Raphael] Varane and Casillas and Diego Lopez, who at the moment is doing his talking on the field.”

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