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26-02-2017  Zinedine Zidane has 'a lot of faith' in Real Madrid goalkeeper Keylor Navas


Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane says he "has faith in" under-pressure goalkeeper Keylor Navas, amid renewed rumours that the Bernabeu outfit will move for either David De Gea or Thibaut Courtois in the summer.

Navas was criticised for Fabio Orellana's goal in Madrid's 2-1 defeat at Valencia on Wednesday, following previous mistakes this season against Sevilla, Legia Warsaw and Borussia Dortmund. Some Blancos fans and pundits have called for backup Kiko Casilla to take over in the team.

Speculation has emerged that club president Florentino Perez will either reignite his interest in De Gea, who famously almost joined Madrid from Manchester United on deadline day in August 2015, or move for Chelsea's former Atletico Madrid keeper Courtois, who is reportedly open to a return to Spain.

At the news conference ahead of Sunday's La Liga trip to Villarreal, Zidane suggested he was aware that Navas' form had dipped, but said he retained full confidence that the Costa Rica international would improve his performances.

"I have faith in Keylor, a lot of faith," he said. "The comments outside we cannot control. He is used to all of this.

"Everyone can do better, all of us, me too. We cannot always do everything as we want. In football there are moments when you must work hard, but I have faith in him, which is the most important."

La Liga leaders Madrid are a point clear at the top with a game in hand, and will kick off against Villarreal knowing the result of Sunday afternoon's visit of title rivals Barcelona to Atletico Madrid.

Zidane denied that this week's results could be decisive in the race for the title -- and recalled how his side almost made up a 12-point gap to pip Barca at the finish last season.

"We will watch that [Atletico vs. Barca] game, but all we can control is what we do on the pitch," he said. "We must just accept whatever the result is.

"This will not change until the end. I remember last year we were a long way behind, and in the end... you never know what will happen in football. Each game has its possibility to pick up points.

"We missed that chance on Wednesday, we have another chance tomorrow against a tough team. There will be many more tough games until the end of the season, at home, and away."

An issue for Madrid -- also beaten by Celta Vigo and Sevilla in recent weeks -- has been that every team lifted their game, Zidane said.

"For every opponent in La Liga it is their biggest game of the year," he said. "I watch their previous games, and don't see the same team. But that is normal. There is an extra motivation playing against Madrid. And we must take that into account."

He would not say whether Pepe or Nacho Fernandez would replace Raphael Varane, who has a hamstring injury, in central defence, but did suggest that fit-again Gareth Bale was ready to start.

"Bale is fine now," Zidane said. "He has had various days training with us fully, and physically he is at 100 percent."

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