French manager Zinedine Zidane is likely to pair Sergio Ramos and Nacho Fernandez in defence at Malaga on Sunday, but Pepe could soon be back in the first-team line-up
The Portugal international has not played since the 1-1 draw with Real Betis on January 24 due to plantar fasciitis - inflamtation and uncomfort on the underside of the foot.
Pepe has not regained fitness sufficiently to be involved at Malaga on Sunday, while Raphael Varane is suspended so Nacho Fernandez and Sergio Ramos are likely to play at La Rosaleda.
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But, with a derby clash with Atletico Madrid to come next week and Champions League action on the horizon, Pepe's return is a welcome boost for Zidane.
"He's in good spirits," the French coach said. "The issue he has takes time... He's much better.
"The plan is for him to continue with what he needs to do in the coming days, and from Tuesday he'll be back with the group."