Real Madrid have been dealt another cruel blow with the news that midfielder Mahamadou Diarra has been ruled out for the season.
The 27-year-old will be out for between six and nine months after injuring his right knee while playing for Mali against Chad in early October.
The midfielder appeared to have made a swift recovery when he was selected to play for Real in the club's Copa del Rey tie against Real Union two weeks later.
However the club have confirmed that the former Lyon man aggravated the injury and has undergone surgery.
The news will frustrate manager Bernd Schuster as looks to take on Barcelona in the 'El Clasico' on Saturday with a squad beset with injuries.
Diarra joins long term casualties Ruud Van Nistelrooy and Pepe on the sidelines while Arjen Robben will miss the match through suspension after he was sent-off in the 4-3 defeat to Sevilla.
The clash is a must win for the reigning champions as they find themselves nine points behind their bitter Catalan rivals.
Midfielder Royston Drenthe left training with a problem in his right knee on Monday and he looks set to miss Real's UEFA Champions League match with Zenit St Petersburg on Wednesday.