Mikel Balenziaga Returns To Training, Mikel Rico Remains Sidelined With Ankle Injury
Gaizka Garitano faced a major test on Monday as he led Athletic into battle against Girona without several key players due to injuries and suspensions. Iñigo Martinez, Peru Nolaskoain, and Yuri Berchiche were all unavailable while Mikel Balenziaga and Mikel Rico missed out due to injury. Cristian Ganea was cleared to play after returning to practice over the weekend, but was kept on the bench.
The new manager got a big boost on Tuesday as Mikel Balenziaga finally returned to training following a hamstring injuries a few weeks ago. The 30-year-old’s return, coupled with all suspensions now being over, gives Garitano the freedom and opportunity to find his best lineup for this Monday’s Basque Derby against Alavés as Mendizorrotza.
Iñaki Williams was also able to train normally after suffering a bruised shoulder against Girona. The winger took a fall when challenging for a header and was soon taken off for Markel Susaeta and was seen with an icepack on his shoulder while he sat on the bench. However, Garitano said after the game that the 24-year-old was fine and that Susaeta had been brought on as a tactical change and not because of any injury to Williams.
Unfortunately, Mikel Rico is still training apart from his teammates as he nurses an ankle injury. The 34-year-old suffered a blow nearly one month ago in a friendly against Deportivo that was expected to be a simple recovery. There is hope that he will be able to rejoin the team soon and in the meantime Garitano will continue to place his trust in other midfielders.