Carlo Ancelotti reveals Thibaut Courtois return date

  • Thibaut Courtois set to return from long-term injury absence
  • Carlo Ancelotti confirms game he expects goalkeeper to play in
  • Future of Andriy Lunin uncertain after standing in this season
Thibaut Courtois hasn't played since pre-season
Thibaut Courtois hasn't played since pre-season / Omar Vega/GettyImages

Real Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois could return to action as soon as next weekend when they host Cadiz in La Liga.

Courtois has missed the entire season so far after suffering an ACL tear just two days before the opening game against Athletic Club. His first attempt at a comeback was then derailed by a meniscus tear in his other knee during a training session last month, requiring surgery to repair.

But the Belgian, despite being at risk of missing the remainder of the campaign because of that procedure in March, could get a handful of games under his belt before everything wraps up.

"Let's see if Thibaut can [play] against Cadiz," Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti said following Friday night’s narrow 1-0 win over Real Sociedad. The game is scheduled for Saturday 4 May.

Real Madrid training in Spain
Courtois is back in training and almost ready to play / Anadolu/GettyImages

The Sociedad clash was a rare opportunity for Kepa Arrizabalaga to start. The goalkeeper on loan from Chelsea lost the battle to be Courtois' stand-in to Andriy Lunin several months ago. But Ancelotti, seemingly with one eye on facing Bayern Munich on Tuesday night, chose to make as many as nine changes from the team that had started against Barcelona a few days earlier.

Lunin is set to return to the lineup for the first leg of the Champions League semi-final in Germany. But if Courtois is ready to return a few days later for the visit of Cadiz, Ancelotti will be presented with a conundrum. Does he reward Lunin for an excellent season and continue to use him for the biggest games that remain? Or doe he immediately reinstate his former starter?

Kepa's future is clear - he will return to his parent club - but Lunin's is not. The Ukrainian, an understudy since 2020 until Courtois' injury finally presented him with an opportunity, potentially has the ability to become a starter at a decent level elsewhere but is wanted by Madrid as a number two.