Mikel Balenziaga Returns To Training, Markel Susaeta Absent
Mikel Balenziaga was moving dangerously close to missing out on Saturday’s clash with Atlético Madrid. The left-back was forced to leave training early on Tuesday with an undisclosed issue and then missed the session altogether on Wednesday. Athletic never issued any form of a medical report which suggested that the 31-year-old wasn’t dealing with any major issue, though it now looks like he will be available this weekend.
Thankfully, Balenziaga returned to training at Lezama on Thursday and was able to work normally with his teammates. Unless the issue, whatever it was, flares back up he is expected to be available to manager Gaizka Garitano on Saturday. This is good news for Athletic who are already without Ander Capa and Iñigo Martinez, which would have led to even weaker depth in the back line.
Speaking of Capa, the 27-year-old continued his recovery from a hamstring strain by working with Xabier Clemente on Saturday. The right-back will not be cleared to return to action before this weekend but should be able to rejoin the group sometime during the upcoming international break. His absence has seen Oscar De Marcos return to the starting lineup in defense and that will continue against Atlético Madrid. Interestingly, Markel Susaeta was not at Lezama for Thursday’s session. The club has yet to issue a medical report so the captain’s status at this point is unknown.
Aritz Aduriz is also aiming to get back on the field soon. The striker returned to training on Monday and hasn’t had any complication to this point. In fact, Garitano used the striker at the top of the attack during some drills in training to test him in front of goal. Though he is training normally, it will still be some time before he is able to play. Having the international break will give him the time to find his rhythm and there is hope that he could be back in the squad in early April, if not sooner.