A deathly hush descended upon the Santiago Bernabeu when Jude Bellingham did not immediately spring back to his feet against Rayo Vallecano.
There was a collective exhale as Bellingham groggily returned to the pitch. Yet, he winced through the remainder of a goalless draw with a heavily strapped shoulder, particularly when taking an ill-advised throw-in.
Almost no team in Spain had been able to halt the irrepressible 20-year-old but injury will take down even the greats.
Here are the latest updates on Bellingham‘s fitness and how much longer fans of Real Madrid and the England national team have to hold their breath.
Carlo Ancelotti was typically positive when delivering an immediate reaction to Bellingham’s complaint. “I don’t think it is anything serious,” the Italian shrugged before even the first scan had been taken.
That initial examination confirmed that Bellingham had dislocated his shoulder while falling to the floor as he chased Isi Palazon’s glistening scalp. Despite a couple of mesmeric pirouettes, it was Bellingham’s quietest outing in a Madrid shirt. The general lack of threat from the rest of his colleagues undermined Ancelotti’s pre-match assertion that Vinicius Junior and Rodrygo would outscore Bellingham and Joselu.
After a late check, Bellingham made the bench for Braga’s Champions League visit to Madrid on 8 November. As Madrid had waltzed into a 3-0 lead inside the opening hour, quashing the growing cries of ‘Bellingham-dependencia’, the Englishman was left to watch the rest of the contest from the sidelines.
Ancelotti again had high hopes of Bellingham’s involvement against Valencia in Madrid’s final match before November’s international break. “Unless something strange happens,” Madrid’s coach declared, “he will play.”
Apparently something strange did happen. Just hours before Valencia travelled to the Santiago Bernabeu, Madrid released an official statement ruling their number five out of the contest. The club revealed that Bellingham had been “diagnosed with a case of anterior instability of the left shoulder, as a consequence of his recent dislocation”.
Sat in the stands next to his mother Denise, Bellingham watched Rodrygo and Vinicius share four goals between them in a 5-1 thrashing of Valencia.
Gareth Southgate has little faith in the medical departments of his players’ club sides. Even though Arsenal’s Bukayo Saka missed the Gunners’ final game before the October break, he was still inspected by England’s doctors. Bellingham is expected to undergo the same rigmarole – although he will have to travel further than the London-based Saka.
Following Madrid’s convincing victory over Valencia, Ancelotti was adamant that Bellingham will not be involved in England’s Euro 2024 qualifiers against Malta and North Macedonia this month.
“He will go to be evaluated but I expect him back [in Spain] again quickly,” the Italian explained on Saturday November 11. “If he didn’t play today, he can’t play with England. He has to do specific work to strengthen his shoulder and he will do that in the coming weeks.”
Ancelotti also predicted: “After the international break I think he will be able to play again.” However, his faith in Bellingham’s powers of recovery have been proven wrong before.