Hand injury to sideline Casillas for weeks

Madrid, Jan 24 (IANS) Real Madrid football club are likely to be without the services of goalkeeper Iker Casillas for weeks after he broke a bone in his hand during his side's Copa del Rey quarterfinal against Valencia.

Casillas was forced off the pitch after just 16 minutes of the game which ended in a 1-1 draw: enough to see his side into the semifinals and was replaced by Antonio Adan, Xinhua reports.

He quickly underwent tests to discover the extent of his injury and the tests showed he has a fracture at the base of the first metacarpal bone of his left hand.

"Throughout the day we will talk to specialists to decide the treatment he has to follow," read a communique on the Madrid website, without saying how long the keeper is likely to be out of action.

Casillas didn't speak to the press after his diagnosis, but he did speak to them directly after the game, before he was certain of the extent of the injury.

"It hurts and something makes a noise when I move my finger. I felt a serious pain as if something had broken," he said.

Although the club have not yet said how long Casillas will be out of action but the recovery time is expected to be between six weeks and three months.

That means he will miss a large chunk of the season, starting with the semi-final of the Copa del Rey and, perhaps more importantly, the last 16 of the Champions League, where Real Madrid take on Manchester United. A defeat to the English Champions would leave Madrid's season in tatters and speculation is already starting that the club may attempt to sign a new keeper to cover for Casillas during his absence.

Ironically Casillas' injury comes just as he had appeared to win back the battle for his place after being dropped by Jose Mourinho at the start of the season in favour of Adan.

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