Zidane defends Hazard after latest injury setback

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - La Liga Santander - Real Madrid v Villarreal - Alfredo Di Stefano Stadium, Madrid, Spain - July 16, 2020 Real Madrid's Eden Hazard with coach Zinedine Zidane celebrate after winning La Liga, as play resumes behind closed doors following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) REUTERS/Sergio Perez

KIEV (Reuters) - Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane defended forward Eden Hazard's mental fortitude after the forward picked up another injury, ruling him out of Tuesday's Champions League meeting with Shakhtar Donetsk.

Belgium national team doctor Kris van Crombrugge had suggested Hazard's injury issues since joining Real were down to mental stress, however Zidane refuted those claims.

"He's really strong (mentally). It's another injury for him, and it's disappointing for us. These are things that happen in many teams and we need to deal with it," Zidane told a news conference.

"I have no doubts about the player that he is and what he wants achieve here. He's having a rough time of late but we're going to help him through it."

Hazard joins captain Sergio Ramos, midfielder Federico Valverde, defender Dani Carvajal and forward Luka Jovic on the sidelines.

Real will qualify for the knockout stage with a win over Shakhtar, and will be hoping to avenge their 3-2 defeat by the Ukrainian outfit back in October.

"We know that tomorrow is another final. We've got two left. Tomorrow is almost certainly the most important group stage game because they're three points which could see us qualify. We're fully focused on that."

Defender Nacho spoke alongside Zidane and said that the side need to improve their consistency given their up and down results this term.

"What we're looking for is consistency, and to go into games in a better way," he said.

"Against Inter (Milan) we were really good, we dominated almost all the game, and against Alaves without it being our worst game, we found ourselves behind and didn't look good."

Real's defensive lapses have seen them ship seven goals in their last three La Liga games and Nacho conceded they have to improve that if they are to retain their league title and be in with a shot of a 14th European Cup.

"We always want to be secure defensively as that's how you win games. The opponents are studying us more and more but you've got to remember that before players we're humans and we try and do the best we can.

"This isn't the way to win trophies, but we're doing all we can to change that."

(Reporting by Joseph Walker; Editing by Christian Radnedge)

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