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Raphael Varane returns to Real Madrid training as defensive worries ease

Real Madrid defender Raphael Varane has returned to training ahead of Sunday's La Liga game against Valencia.

Varane missed training earlier this week, with the club not revealing the reason for his absence.

His return is a boost for coach Zinedine Zidane, who is without club captain Sergio Ramos following his sending off at Deportivo La Coruna, with Madrid failing in an appeal against the dismissal.

Jesus Vallejo is still recovering from an adductor muscle injury suffered in preseason, with Zidane having looked likely to be short of resources in defence.

But France international Varane is now set to partner Nacho Fernandez at the Bernabeu, and a Madrid statement said his return was "the big news" from Friday's training session.

It added that Vallejo "continued his recovery process, training using the indoor facilities and running out on the pitch."

Castilla youngsters Alvaro Tejero and Manu Herrera played the second half of Wednesday's 2-1 Trofeo Bernabeu victory over Fiorentina, and the more experienced Tejero could be on the bench against Valencia.

Meanwhile, Champions League award winners Cristiano Ronaldo (who took the Best Player and Best Attacker accolades), Luka Modric (Best Midfielder) and Ramos (Best Defender) showed off their trophies prior to the training session.

Dermot Corrigan is a Madrid-based football writer who covers La Liga and the Spain national team for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @dermotmcorrigan

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