Zidane: I am going to count on Isco

By Sports Desk March 15, 2019

Zinedine Zidane says he is ready to bring Isco back in from the cold after the attacking midfielder was ostracised under previous Real Madrid coach Santiago Solari.

Isco made 30 LaLiga appearances in each of Zidane's previous two full terms in charge, but he has been restricted to only five starts in Spain's top flight this term.

Last week Solari appeared to question Isco's fitness and he was absent from the matchday squad when Madrid beat Real Valladolid last weekend amid reports he had skipped a pre-match team talk prior to the Champions League loss to Ajax.

On Friday, the 26-year-old was left out of Luis Enrique's Spain squad, yet his club future at least appears brighter after the returning Zidane vowed to include him in his plans.

"The players - even those who have played less - are training, but then a game is not the same as a workout," the Frenchman told reporters at a news conference to preview Saturday's clash with Celta Vigo.

"The good thing is that all players are good here. The important thing is that they are all ready. 

"There are 11 games left, and I will have everyone. I'm going to count on Isco and the others to the fullest."

According to reports, Madrid's hierarchy were considering sanctioning Isco after he also did not travel on the team's coach to the fixture against Ajax.

Zidane was asked about that possible club-imposed ban and insisted Isco's only focus is on playing.

"We are here to think football," he added.

"Isco wants to play and leave bans. We're going to play football and that's it."

With Madrid already out of the Champions League and 12 points behind LaLiga leaders Barcelona with 11 games to go, Zidane seemingly faces a rebuilding job in the close-season.

Yet despite speculation over the future of players such as Gareth Bale and Marcelo, the Madrid boss stressed he does not see the end-of-season run-in as an audition for those who may be on their way out.

"I do not think about that," Zidane said.

"What I think about is finishing the season well, I'm not going to look at who's going to continue, who's going to stay. They have a contract and they have to think about finishing the season well."

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