Gaizka Garitano Testing Players In Different Positions During Preseason
“The most important thing is to train well this preseason.” Gaizka Garitano set the foundation for the summer during his first press conference, highlighting that the team must put in the work now to have a good season once the La Liga campaign officially begins. Having the entire preseason to get the team ready is a big deal for the manager who took over Athletic’s first team back in December.
Garitano began the preseason with 28 players under his guidance. Gorka Gurzeta has been present, but unable to work with his teammates due to recovering from ACL surgery. Oihan Sancet didn’t join the group until Friday because of international duty and Iñigo Martinez will be back on Monday. Unai Simón and Unai Nuñez won’t report until the team leaves for Germany on 21 July.
Despite having such a big squad, the manager has had to move players around when doing drills and playing scrimmages. Garitano has used this opportunity to test several Lions in different positions which could help the team’s overall versatility in the upcoming season. During Saturday’s training session the team broke up for three short scrimmages, during which Garitano made some adjustments.
Twice Mikel San José and Andoni López featured as a center-backs with Mikel Vesga and Peru Nolaskoain also doing so once each. Gaizka Larrazabal played as a right-back during one match and Cristian Ganea featured as both a fullback and winger. Interestingly, Kenan Kodro never worked at striker but was instead used as the attacking midfielder while Iñigo Vicente only played on the left-wing. Aritz Aduriz, Iñaki Williams, and Asier Villalibre didn’t move from the striker role.
The rest of the players kept their own positions more or less, but the changes were necessary. With only two true center-backs available at the moment Garitano had to move things around to even be able to hold the scrimmages. Being able to contribute in more than one area of the field is an invaluable quality. Most of the first team squad is already set for the upcoming season, but for the players who are still fighting for their place, these scrimmages offer crucial opportunities to convince the Mister.