This has been the strangest season in Mikel Balenziaga’s career. The 30-year-old has missed 19 matches due to various injuries and every time he seemed close to a comeback there was always some form of setback. Now, after having practiced normally for over a week the left-back is expected to make his return to the starting lineup on Saturday when the Lions host Celta Vigo. Balenziaga recently spoke to the media about his recovery and revealed that he has already put the injuries behind him.
“I feel good, I’m much better. The injury has already been forgotten and I’m really looking forward to getting back in the team. Will I be available this weekend? Yes, I will. My issue is very easy to explain. I had a quadriceps injury that, at first, seemed like I was going to be out for a much shorter time. I thought that I was ready to compete but after the match against Marseille we saw that the injury was not quite right and that I was going to have to stop again. It was a matter of feeling it out.”
Some questioned whether it was wise for Balenziaga to make a comeback against Marseille a few weeks ago, during which his muscle injury resurfaced. However, the defender quickly dismissed those thoughts and said that when a player feels good it doesn’t matter what the next game is, you just want to be back on the pitch.
“I’ve always said that once I feel good, I’m good to return in any game and represent Athletic. It didn’t matter that it was a European match. Nobody likes to be injured, and it is even worse when the injury doesn’t have time to heal. But these things happen in football. This year it was my turn for injuries and that’s just how it is. In this team there has been many times when someone has been missing or injured and there are players that have to step up and for the most part they have played equally well or even better.”
Mikel Balenziaga isn’t the only Athletic player who has received the medical green light. Just a few days ago Athletic announced that Iker Muniain had also been cleared to play again, just six months after suffering a torn ACL. Unlike Balenziaga, Muniain isn’t expected to jump straight back into the team, but he is working hard to get back on the field as soon as possible. The Lions will be back in action on Saturday when they will host Celta Vigo at the San Mamés as they look to continue competing for the final European spot in the La Liga table.