Carlo Ancelotti has poured cold water over fears that Cristiano Ronaldo is suffering from a chronic knee injury and says Real Madrid's talisman is at "100 per cent" for Saturday's big derby clash Atlético Madrid at the Bernabeu.
The 29-year-old was rested for Madrid's last match, a shock 4-2 defeat against Real Sociedad, and also took time off from international duty with Portugal to fully recover from injuries that have plagued him for much of this year.
Ronaldo limped through the latter stages of last season, providing below-par performances despite helping Los Blancos become European champions, and struggled during Portugal's poor World Cup campaign in Brazil but still returned to feature in Madrid's European Super Cup and Spanish Super Cup matches, as well as the league opener against Cordoba, in which he scored the second goal in a comfortable 2-0 win.
With the former Manchester United man pushed to the limit, a decision was taken to leave him out of the trip to Anoeta last time out and Ronaldo has been working hard at Madrid's Valdebebas training base to put his niggling injury concerns to one side and be ready for this weekend's crucial derby clash, as well as Tuesday's Champions League opener against Basel in the Spanish capital.
And despite falling to defeat in the Basque country after taking an early 2-0 lead without their leading man, Ancelotti says the decision to rest Madrid's No.7 looks to have paid off ahead of the visit of Diego Simeone's side.
"Cristiano has worked great, he's at 100 per cent," he said. "He plays when he's alright, when he's not tired or risking injuries. I don't think he played too much last season, he played those games in which he wasn't risking anything. We handled him well, he scored a lot of goals. He doesn't have a chronic injury."
Some reports suggested officials inside the club were concerned at Ronaldo's long-term fitness after pushing himself to the limit with Los Blancos last term but Ancelotti has brushed those fears aside.
The Italian will certainly be counting on the Ballon d'Or holder to add some much-needed magic to his side after their sluggish start to the campaign. A 2-0 victory over Sevilla in the European Super Cup final hinted at a side hitting the ground running following a season that saw them finally clinch a tenth European Cup but performances since have been far from commanding.
Atleti already hold the Spanish capital bragging rights this season after winning the Spanish Super Cup 2-1 on aggregate and have no fear in making the short trip to a stadium they couldn't win in for love nor money only a few years ago. Madrid had not won a league derby since 1999 when Diego Costa's strike ensured a famous 1-0 victory there last season. That followed hot-on-the-heels of a Copa del Rey final success against their neighbours in their own back yard just months before. A stubborn 1-1 draw in the first leg of this season's Spanish Super Cup suggest Simeone's side will be just as tough to break a year on as they defend their league title.
Madrid are set to be without Dani Carvajal, who suffered a hamstring injury in his thigh while on international duty with Spain, while Sami Khedira (hamstring) and Jese Rodriguez (knee) also missed training.
Ancelotti gave few clues about his starting eleven for Saturday's match but did say new loan signing Javier Hernandez would have to make do with a place on the bench and hinted Karim Benzema would start in a three-pronged attack alongside Ronaldo and Gareth Bale. "We're happy, not only because we signed a good goalscorer but also because we signed an excellent person who loves to be here," he said of the Manchester United man. "He's not going to start tomorrow but I think he will be very useful throughout the match. Karim helps the midfielders a lot, Chicharito is very good at attacking the defensive line. They're different."Reuse content