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    Kaka joins Madrid's lengthy injury list

    Madrid: Real Madrid's injury woes deepened on Saturday when Brazilian play-maker Kaka was left out of the squad for Sunday's La Liga match at Racing Santander (2000 GMT) because of a thigh muscle problem.

    Kaka, who needed knee surgery after the 2010 World Cup and missed the first half of the season, was unable to train on Saturday and joins Cristiano Ronaldo, Sami Khedira, Fernando Gago, Alvaro Arbeloa, Ezequiel Garay and Gonzalo Higuain on the medical list.

    Coach Jose Mourinho told a news conference on Saturday it was better for Kaka, who has struggled to regain the form that won him a World Player of the Year award in 2007, to get properly fit before playing again.

    "He is limited in his movement and agility and his condition on the pitch and he is not happy when he doesn't feel on top form," the Portuguese said.

    "The medical department decided it was better to return only when he feels absolutely fine and I prefer it that way.

    "It's not positive for the team or the player if he doesn't feel at 100 per cent."

    Real could find themselves 10 points behind leaders Barcelona by the time they play Racing if the champions beat struggling Real Zaragoza at the Nou Camp on Saturday (1900).

    Barca may have goalkeeper Victor Valdes back after injury, although coach Pep Guardiola might not be able to attend the match after suffering a painful spinal disc hernia that required hospital treatment this week.

    PUYOL ABSENT

    Captain Carles Puyol missed Saturday's training session as he continued his recovery from injury, the club said on their website (www.fcbarcelona.cat).

    Mourinho said Real would not be the same team without joint La Liga top scorer Ronaldo, who is level on 27 goals with Barca forward Lionel Messi, but noted that there were other players in the squad capable of stepping in.

    Ronaldo was ruled out for 10 to 15 days after damaging a leg muscle in Thursday's 7-0 drubbing of Malaga at the Bernabeu.

    "He (Ronaldo) is too important a player for me to say that we won't miss him or the team will be as effective without him," Mourinho said.

    "But we have good players in the squad. We have other players who are motivated to give their best.

    "The fact that Cristiano Ronaldo is not playing doesn't alter our ambition or objectives.

    "It's going to be difficult, more difficult without Cristiano Ronaldo but we are confident we can reach our goal."

    Higuain is Real's next-most prolific marksman in the league with seven goals despite not having played since late last year.