Athletic Club has already played in three preseason friendlies and there has been plenty of discussion points. From interesting combinations to system altercations, every match has been analyzed and picked through with a fine-tooth comb. Still, the most important thing is seeing that the players are loosening up and prepared for the regular season to start. Sadly, these early summer games can often lead to injuries which is exactly what has happened to Athletic on three occasions.
In the 2-0 win over Sion, Aymeric Laporte was forced to leave early in the second half due to a muscle issue in his left hamstring. The defender did not ask for a substitute, but Cuco Ziganda decided to make the change out of precaution. He did not train or play for the last few days in Switzerland. Meanwhile, Inigo Lekue missed the last few practices as well with some sort of injury, although the details were never revealed.
Days later, in the scoreless draw against Fenerbahce, Sabin Merino had to make an exit with just one minute left until halftime. The forward was seen grabbing his right hamstring as he left the field. The Lions publicly announced that both Laporte and Merino had suffered overloaded muscles, but fans were still worried about the possibly severity with the season set to begin in just one week. Luckily, that is not a concern anymore.
The Lions returned to training at Lezama on Wednesday and all three players were in attendance. Not only did the trio return to practice, they did everything fully and showed no signs of issues. Unless something unexpected happens, they will be available to Ziganda for next Thursday’s Europa League clash with Dinamo Bucuresti. Leading up to that game, Athletic will play friendlies against Club Brugge and Real Valladolid. With the season so close it will be more important than ever to not push players too hard or risk injury. Thankfully Laporte, Merino, and Lekue are all healthy again and ready to contribute.