Casillas may not recover starting job

For Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho, Iker Casillas will have a difficult time recovering his spot as starting goalkeeper considering Diego Lopez’s strong performances.

Mourinho said following Saturday’s 1-1 draw at Real Zaragoza that if Lopez continues playing well ”it will be difficult that he relinquishes the net.”

Lopez was signed from Sevilla after Casillas broke his left hand on Jan. 24. Lopez helped Madrid eliminate Manchester United in the Champions League last 16, and he made a key save to prevent a loss on Saturday.

Casillas was cleared to play by team doctors last week but was not named to Madrid’s squad for Saturday’s game.

”In football we have to be honest with ourselves and with our players,” said Mourinho. ”Casillas still isn’t ready to be Diego Lopez’s backup.”

Mourinho said Casillas would not be named to his squad for Wednesday’s game against Galatasaray either in the Champions League quarterfinals, but would be so for next weekend’s Spanish league match against Levante.

Casillas has been a regular starter for a decade and is the captain of both Madrid and world champion Spain. He is widely revered by the club’s and national team’s fans.

In December, Mourinho surprisingly benched Casillas for the inexperienced Adan Garrido, who after a series of uneven showings has not played again since Lopez’s arrival.

Mourinho’s latest comments regarding Casillas’ place in the club come a week after he questioned the vote that gave Spain coach Vicente del Bosque the 2012 FIFA coach of the year award.

Madrid is 13 points adrift of Barcelona in the league with nine games to go.