Real Madrid have been dealt a huge blow ahead of their Champions League knockout clash against Manchester United with news that star goalkeeper Iker Casillas will miss both matches due to a broken bone in his left hand and then some.
UPDATE: Thursday, Jan. 24, at 7:44 a.m. ET by Brandon Galvin
Real Madrid’s Iker Casillas faces between six and 12 weeks out of action after fracturing a bone in his left hand last night at Valencia....
...Tests carried out in the early hours of Thursday morning back in Madrid have since revealed that the player has fractured the base of the first metacarpal in his hand - i.e. his thumb.
The player is set for further tests today at the club to determine a course of treatment and a projected recovery period. Reports indicate that such an injury is believed to require between six and 12 weeks to recover from.
---End of update---
Casillas is believed to have picked up the injury in Madrid's recent Copa del Rey match against Valencia, which finished in a 1-1 draw for Los Blancos.
The Spanish international and Madrid star was recently voted as the best goalkeeper in the world by FIFA at the 2012 Ballon d'Or awards.
Spanish media outlet SportYou was the first to break the story, with the news coming over their Twitter account early Thursday morning:
Casillas out of both United games broken hand says @sportyou— pete jenson (@petejenson) January 24, 2013
The Daily Mirror then picked up more of the story:
Real Madrid captain Iker Casillas will miss both games against Manchester United in the Champions League last 16 after fracturing a bone in his hand during last night's Copa del Rey clash with Valencia.
Casillas took a kick to the hand after 18 minutes of the 1-1 draw, which safely saw Madrid through to the semi-finals with a 3-1 aggregate win.
A club statement this morning confirmed Casillas had a fracture.
"After carrying out initial x-rays at the La Moraleja Sanitas Hospital it has been confirmed that the footballer Iker Casillas has suffered a fracture at the base of the first metacarpal on his left hand," the statement read.
"It will be assessed again by a specialist later today to decide what treatment will be followed."
Sky Sports analyst Guillem Balague also commented:
Casillas has a broken finger and could be out for a month according to some sources, or 2 months according to others. We'll know more later— Guillem Balague (@GuillemBalague) January 24, 2013
The news is a huge blow for Real Madrid, who would have been looking to the Champions League as a great way to get something out of the 2012-13 season, having already seemingly surrendered the title to rivals Barcelona.
The one glimmer of hope is that backup Antonio Adan has been controversially selected by Jose Mourinho in a number of recent matches—giving the goalkeeper some much-needed match practice ahead of the next few weeks of football.
There are few goalkeepers in the world who could replace Saint Iker and everything that he means to Madrid, especially with huge Champions League and Copa del Rey fixtures ahead for the defending Spanish champions.
More news is expected to follow as to just how long Casillas will be out for, but given the extent of the injury, it is thought to be a significant period of time.
Not that any time without Casillas isn't significant for Madrid, especially with the Champions League and Manchester United just around the corner.
Who will win the Champions League clash between United and Madrid?
Comment below, or hit me up on Twitter: Follow @dantalintyre