Modric challenges Odegaard to earn Real Madrid place and says Hazard will prove his worth

Martin Odegaard, Real Madrid 2020-21
The Norway midfielder has struggled for regular minutes at Santiago Bernabeu this season but may get a chance in upcoming cup fixtures

Luka Modric has challenged Martin Odegaard to take his chance and prove he is worthy of a place in the Real Madrid team.

Odegaard, 22, was hugely impressive on loan at Real Sociedad last season but has struggled for regular game time since returning to Santiago Bernabeu.

Niggling injuries have robbed him of momentum and he has started each of the last five league games on the bench, only coming on once for a five-minute cameo against Celta Vigo.

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Madrid don't play in La Liga again until January 23, with the Supercopa de Espana semi-final against Athletic Club on Thursday, potentially the final three days later, and a Copa del Rey clash with minnows Alcoyano up first.

Odegaard is among the fringe players hoping for a chance to impress, and Modric says it is a chance he must grasp.

"I like Odegaard as a player and as a person,” Modric told reporters. “The advice I can give him is to keep working and fighting to have his place in the team. When it is his turn to play, he must show why he is here, make a difference and help the team.

"It is the coach’s decision, here when you get to play you must give your best, perform at your best and nothing else. Not rotating is the coach's decision, you don't have to look for other reasons for this, and that's it."

Another player short of minutes this season is Eden Hazard, whose injury-stricken spell at Madrid has continued in 2020-21. The former Chelsea star returned just before the new year and recently played 75 minutes in a 0-0 draw against Osasuna.

"Hazard has had no continuity, bad luck with injuries,” Modric said. “All these are reasons why he has not been able to show his best level. He is a great player; he will show this at Madrid. Now with continuity and without injuries he will show why Madrid has signed him."

If Madrid beat Athletic, they will play the winner of Wednesday’s game – Real Sociedad or Barcelona – in the final on January 17.

"There are no favourites,” Modric insisted. “The four teams that are here have a chance to win the tournament. We are going to do our best to try to reach the final and win another title, but first we have to win tomorrow's game.

"We're fine. We have been in Malaga for three days preparing for the game and the team's feeling is good. We know that a very important match awaits us and we look forward to it."