Athletic played their third friendly of the summer on Monday which ended in a scoreless draw against Fenerbahce. It was the club’s final match of their Festival of the Alps and now the Lions will return to Bilbao in order to prepare for their Europa League clash with Dinamo Bucuresti next week. Aritz Aduriz had a chance to give the Basques a first half lead through a penalty, but he sent his effort wide. From there the match played out simply without much action. Despite putting in a good showing and keeping a clean sheet, Athletic once again suffered a setback.
Right before the halftime whistle sounded, Sabin Merino was forced to be brought off and Markel Susaeta took his place. The winger was seen grabbing the back of his right leg and fans were immediately hoping that it was nothing serious.
After the game, Athletic officially announced that Merino had suffered an overload in his right hamstring which likely means that has some minor muscle injury. This does come at a terrible time for the 25-year-old who was playing at a very high level in Athletic’s friendlies in Switzerland. In fact, he had just recently said that he believes the injuries of last season are now behind him and he can just focus on playing football again. Merino struggled all last season with minor issues and is hoping that this one will pass quickly.
Merino joins Aymeric Laporte who left early in Saturday’s win over FC Sion with the same issue in his left hamstring. With a big match against Dinamo Bucuresti looming next week, Cuco Ziganda will have to be very careful with his squad in order to avoid any more injuries. These types of problems are not uncommon this time of year due to everyone coming back from summer vacation, but it is still unfortunate to see. Regardless, Merino was showing that he was finally back to his best before leaving Monday’s game and initial diagnosis suggests that it is nothing serious. Hopefully he will be back quickly and can continue making his case for a major role in Ziganda’s team.