Iker Casillas Injury Puts Man Utd, Barcelona Games in Question

Will CarrollSports Injuries Lead WriterJanuary 25, 2013

Aug 8, 2012; Bronx, NY, USA;  Real Madrid goalkeeper Iker Casillas during the first half against AC Milan at  Yankee Stadium.   Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Real Madrid will have to face Manchester United and Barcelona without their top goaltender and captain, Iker Casillas. Casillas fractured a bone in his hand on Wednesday and could miss as much as eight weeks, according to Madrid's medical director (via ESPN Soccernet).

Casillas was injured during a Copa del Rey match against Valencia. His teammate, Alvaro Arbeloa, accidentally kicked Casillas' hand while trying to clear a ball from the area. Casillas was in immediate and obvious pain. 

X-rays showed that Casillas has a fracture at the base of his first metacarpal, or thumb. This type of injury is known as a Bennett's fracture. This type of fracture almost always comes with a dislocation, which explains why Casillas appeared to be in such pain. This type of fracture is also seldom clean, usually requiring medical intervention to ensure proper healing. 

Alfonso del Corral said in a team statement that he did not believe Casillas would be able to return before the six-to-eight-week healing period. "Less than two months would be difficult," Corral explained, via ESPN. "A football goalkeeper must be able to fall on his hand and face shots at more than 100 kilometres per hour." 

Sources I spoke with, including physiotherapists from clubs in England who were familiar with this type of injury saw no way that Casillas could return in any less than six weeks. "He's out for all of February, at least," said one team physio who could not speak on record. "There's just too much danger in a re-injury and no way to play in the type of cast/brace that he will need to be in."

Simon Brundish, a consulting sports scientist with the English Premier League and English FA said that he had experience with this type of injury. "We had a keeper that tried to come back in five," he told me. "It took him eight weeks to come back after that, so given [Casillas'] age and position, I'd say no way." 

There is an outside chance that Casillas could make it back for the second leg of the Champions League tie against Manchester United. That game is scheduled for March 5 in Madrid. Just prior to that, Madrid faces their rivals, FC Barcelona, twice in the space of the week, with one Clasico in league play and one in the Copa del Rey semifinals. 

If Casillas requires a surgical fix for his hand, it becomes even less likely that he could return for any of those key matches, leaving the goal to Antonio Adan. Adan has received more time than usual this season, with Casillas getting benched at one point. There has been speculation that Real Madrid could look to make a transfer to strengthen the position.

Some of that speculation has been focused on upcoming opponent David de Gea of Manchester United, according to Dermot Corrigan of ESPN Soccernet. The young Spanish goalie and Spain U21 captain has fallen out of favor to some extent and has been linked to both top Spanish clubs.