MADRID • Portuguese forward Cristiano Ronaldo needs to take time off and even miss games if he is to see out an arduous season, after he limped off before the end of Real Madrid's 3-0 victory over Villarreal on Wednesday, according to manager Zinedine Zidane.
The French coach said Ronaldo did not appear to have a serious injury despite walking off the pitch holding the back of his thigh before the final whistle went.
"He got a fright, but I don't think it is anything serious," he said.
"I am calmer now than when I saw him leave the pitch."
Zidane had already used his three substitutions and could not replace Ronaldo with another player, leaving his team with 10 men for the remaining seconds of the game.
The 31-year-old superstar has played every minute of Real's 34 league games this season and started all 10 games in the Champions League, only being substituted in the 89th minute of the round-of-16 first leg at Roma.
"Once in a while he needs to be substituted so he can rest," Zidane said.
"It's necessary for him not to finish one game or to miss one game occasionally.
"But he's a player who always wants to play and give everything he has. It's difficult for me at times."
Spanish newspaper AS reported that Ronaldo was suffering from cramp and was expected to undergo medical tests.
Zidane said he was not worried that Ronaldo had a serious injury, as Madrid prepare for a La Liga game at Rayo Vallecano tomorrow and their Champions League semi-final first leg with Manchester City on Tuesday.
"He is more a team player than people think, he is working very well and defending a lot," the coach added.
"Everyone recognises his work. He doesn't just score goals, he's another member of the team."
However, there was better news on the injury front for Zidane, as he confirmed that Gareth Bale should be fit for the trip to Rayo after missing the visit of Villarreal with a muscle problem.
"Hopefully he will be able to train with us and be ready for the game on Saturday," added the Frenchman.
REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE