Karim Benzema will miss Real Madrid’s next two games, but could return for the derby with Atletico Madrid, according to club coach Carlo Ancelotti.

Benzema came off with a knee injury during Real Madrid’s 3-0 win at Celtic in the opening group game of the 2022/2023 UEFA Champions League on Tuesday.

As a result, it had been feared he would miss a significant period as a result.

However, Ancelotti appeared to allay those fears at a press conference on Saturday ahead of Los Blancos’ game with Real Mallorca on Sunday.

He said the France international might even be back in just over a week.

After Real Mallorca, Real Madrid host RB Leipzig in the UEFA Champions League before making the short trip to face rivals Atletico Madrid next Sunday.

“We will not force Benzema,” Real Madrid coach Ancelotti said. “He will certainly not play against RB Leipzig. But then we will see for the derby.

“If he can’t play then [against Atletico Madrid], he won’t go to France [for the international break].”

Benzema was replaced after 30 minutes at Parkhead by Eden Hazard, who went on to score the third goal in the victory.

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It is likely the Belgian will be tasked with filling the centre-forward spot against Real Mallorca.

Ancelotti does not want him to play like Benzema, though, saying: “Hazard did well coming on against Celtic. I’m going to put him in again on Sunday. Hopefully he can repeat a great game.

“I don’t expect [Hazard] to play like Benzema, but I want him to play well and to connect with the other forwards.”

Ancelotti has made it clear that there is no replacement for Benzema, with alternative options providing different strengths in the final third.

Hebsingled out Vinicius Jr —- who has scored in each of his last four Real Madrid appearances —- for praise.

He said: “We don’t have Karim and because he is the best striker in the world, there is no substitute for him on the market.

“But he can be replaced with other players with different characteristics.

“Vinicius is getting more consistent in finishing, in scoring goals. It is difficult for him to fail in front of the goal. There, he has improved a lot.

“I want to emphasise that he continues to maintain a good attitude, with a lot of humility, work. He wants to improve every day.”(dpa/NAN)