Real Madrid defender Pepe will miss Thursday's Clásico Spanish Super Cup clash with Barcelona after picking up a head injury in the season's first game, coach Jose Mourinho has said.
"Pepe won't play," he told a news conference on the eve of the match against arch-rivals Barcelona at the Camp Nou. Mourinho said that if Pepe had a choice he would play, despite clashing heads in mid-air with goalkeeper Iker Casillas in the 1-1 home draw with Valencia on Sunday.
"For him yes but for us no," he added. "It is not human to risk a player for a football game, whatever the game is. So, there is no doubt either with the medical department or with the coach that Pepe will not play. He is progressing well. He is very good, he is already training. And without wanting to go too far, our feeling is that he could be there on Sunday without any risk."
Real Madrid defender Raul Albiol will play instead on Thursday, Mourinho revealed, but refused to give more details of the lineup. Pepe had to quit the field at half-time after the head clash and spent a night at a Madrid hospital, where a medical report said he arrived "in a confused and agitated state".
However, a scan revealed no serious damage and he improved overnight to show a "good level of awareness", it added.
Fans and players sent support, including rival Barcelona defender Gerard Pique who wrote on Twitter: "I have just seen the pictures on TV. They are frightening. I hope it is nothing serious and he will be able to play again soon."
Pepe sent thanks to his well-wishers in a message on the club website. "Very soon I will be in perfect shape to continue fighting for the shirt and for our club," he said.