Real Madrid's Karim Benzema back in training ahead of Atletico Madrid clash

Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema has returned to training ahead of Saturday's La Liga derbi at Atletico Madrid, but midfielder Casemiro and centre-back Pepe look all but certain to miss out.

Benzema's availability became even more important to Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane when it emerged that Alvaro Morata had picked up a hamstring injury on international duty with Spain, which will see him sidelined for about a month.

Benzema had been troubled by a muscle problem recently but was involved with the Madrid group in Thursday's training session, although Casemiro and Pepe trained away from their teammates as they continued to recover from their respective broken shin bone and hamstring issues.

A club statement also confirmed that Raphael Varane, James Rodriguez, Dani Carvajal and Nacho Fernandez all trained on their return from international commitments, but goalkeeper Keylor Navas was not yet back and would likely have just one session on Friday before he faced Atletico.

"Real Madrid completed the fourth session of the week and continued their preparations for the Madrid derby, which will take place on Saturday at the Vicente Calderon [8:45pm CET]," the statement read.

"Benzema joined the group for a session in which Zidane had more international players at his disposal: Varane, James, Carvajal and Nacho. Keylor Navas did not arrive back from Costa Rica in time following the international game he featured in. Zidane also involved the Real Madrid Castilla players Enzo [Fernandez] and [Martin] Odegaard in a training session which saw the ball take centre stage.

"The Whites carried out, amongst other exercises, long distance races and footvolley matches. [Toni] Kroos and Morata continue with their recovery processes, while Casemiro and Pepe trained out on the pitch away from the rest of their teammates."

Madrid captain Sergio Ramos and Luka Modric are both set to make their first starts in over a month having returned to full fitness, while Mateo Kovacic is also expected to shake off an ankle problem to begin the game given Kroos is out until 2017 with a broken bone in his foot.

Zidane will not want to take too many risks ahead of an upcoming schedule which includes the Clasico at Barcelona on Dec. 3, and testing Champions League group games at Sporting Lisbon on Nov. 22 and at home to Borussia Dortmund on Dec. 7.