Iñigo Lekue Makes Season Debut After Long Battle With Injuries
This hasn’t been the season that Iñigo Lekue had hoped for. Back in late August, just as the season was kicking off, the right-back suffered a fractured ankle in training at Lezama and was forced to undergo surgery. Lekue was finally able to return to training at the end of October though it was short-lived. Two months later the 25-year-old found himself back in the operating room, this time to repair a lumbar disc in his lower back.
Lekue wouldn’t be back in training until earlier this month and it looked as though it would be difficult for him to have any opportunities to play before the season came to an end. However, with Ander Capa ruled out with a strained hamstring Lekue would have his chance. He was called up to the squad for the first time all year for Saturday’s match against Atlético Madrid at San Mamés.
“Iñigo Lekue has come back into the team because Capa is unavailable”, explained Gaizka Garitano during Friday’s press conference. “We can mold players in other positions when there is a need, but if something happens to De Marcos we don’t have anyone else who is natural there. I think Iñigo can help us.” Even then it seemed like a long shot that he would actually be able to step back on the field.
The special moment finally came in stoppage time of Saturday’s match as Athletic led Atlético 2-0. Garitano motioned for Lekue to go on and his number flashed on the substitution sign, replacing Ibai Gómez. Just a few months ago it looked like his season was already over before it could ever start, but Lekue has finally put his injuries in the past. Bringing on the 25-year-old was a wonderful gesture from the manager who also showed faith in the defender during an intense game.