Zidane reflects on Hazard's rotten luck after COVID positive

·2-min read
Champions League - Round of 16 Second Leg - Manchester City v Real Madrid
Champions League - Round of 16 Second Leg - Manchester City v Real Madrid

MADRID (Reuters) - Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane said Eden Hazard's positive COVID-19 test had come at a difficult time for the player just as he was returning to full fitness, but added the Belgian was in high spirits.

Hazard has only played three times this season after missing the start of the campaign with a muscle problem, after his first campaign with Madrid was blighted by two serious ankle injuries.

He scored a superb goal in his first La Liga game against Huesca last week and was set to face Valencia on Sunday, but he and Brazilian midfielder Casemiro have both been forced to isolate after returning positive COVID-19 tests on Saturday.

"It's very tough for him but he's a strong player and is in a delicate moment due to all the injuries he has had recently. But he is in good spirits and that's the most important thing," Zidane told a news conference on Saturday.

Real defender Eder Militao has also tested positive for the virus recently and Zidane now has a total of six players out with either illness or injuries.

The Frenchman tried to look on the bright side but conceded the positive cases had disrupted their preparations for the trip to Mestalla, where his side have only won one of their last six visits in the league.

"They (Hazard and Casemiro) are OK, although of course they're not happy with what has happened, but emotionally and physically they are OK. I have sent them a message and later I will speak to them," he added.

"This is something that could always happen and it could be worse. Right now many people are suffering more. But it's a little disconcerting because our training session today was very different to how it would normally be the day before a game.

"We just have to accept it and move forward as a team, because we are strongest as a group."

Real are second in the standings, one point behind leaders Real Sociedad and with a game in hand.

(Reporting by Richard Martin; Editing by Christian Radnedge)