Aritz Aduriz has missed Athletic’s last two games with an muscle injury in his abdomen and it is safe to say that the Lions definitely could’ve used the star striker. Without the 37-year-old the offense was stagnant and struggled to create chances. Finally, there is some good news. The players returned to training on Tuesday and Aduriz was back among his teammates. It had been exactly two weeks since he picked up the injury during a shooting drill in training, but having the striker back will definitely be a good thing.
Right now it is impossible to know whether or not Aduriz will jump back into the starting lineup. Leading up to his injury, Iñaki Williams had started over Aduriz for a few games and that might continue even though the 37-year-old is no longer sidelined. Still, having Aduriz available is a big deal because he can provide plenty of quality even off of the bench. Fans will certainly be watching training sessions and news carefully to see whether or not the striker has actually been cleared to return to the field.
Unfortunately, there was a trade-off to getting Aduriz back in the team. Mikel Balenziaga suffered a left hamstring injury and was seen limping off of the training field accompanied by doctors. Afterwards the club officially announced that he would be undergoing tests to determine the severity of his injury. The left-back has not had a good year with injuries and has already missed quite a bit of action. With only three games remaining Balenziaga will be hoping that this summer will allow him to get back to full fitness.
Right now it is safe to say that Balenziaga probably won’t be able to play this weekend against Real Betis, which poses a problem. Oscar De Marcos and Raúl García are both suspended due to yellow card accumulation and that means that manager Kuko Ziganda will have to tweak his lineup. Enric Saborit will almost certainly start in place of Balenziaga, with Iñigo Lekue slotting in for De Marcos. Raúl García’s replacement is the most difficult to gauge as Iker Muniain would be the obvious choice, but no one knows if he is ready to play that many minutes so soon after coming back from an ACL injury. Ziganda has some big decisions to make on Saturday ahead of facing Real Betis who are on an eight game unbeaten streak.