Iñigo Martinez “I’m Picking Up Pace So I’ll Be Ready For The Season”
Iñigo Martinez played his first minutes of the preseason on Thursday, starting in Athletic’s 1-1 draw against Numancia. The defender had been sidelined for the last three weeks after picking up a muscle injury during his physical and was finally able to return to regular training earlier this week. Speaking with the media after the game, Martinez explained that his goal now is to get ready for the season opener against Barcelona.
“I feel fine, it was a silly occurrence. I don’t know if I’ve recovered 100%, but if I’m not then I’m only off by a little. The injury is forgotten. I’ve been training alone, apart from the group. Now I’m working to catch up. This is the first week that I’ve trained one hundred percent. I’m picking up pace so that I will be at my best when the first match against Barcelona arrives. I have to add minutes because that’s what I need to be ready for the season.”
After a poor start last year put the Lions in a relegation battle, Martinez knows the value of being strong in the opening weeks. “It’s important to start the season well”, he said. “Last year the first round was complicated because of our bad start. We’re doing a good job to be strong for the first game. We will play it with great enthusiasm and desire.” Hosting Barcelona at San Mamés is a difficult way to kick off the campaign, but the Lions are determined to pick up points.
“The important thing in the summer is to get a good rhythm to start the first game well”, Martinez acknowledged. “At this point the result isn’t what matters, but it’s also true that it helps in the following matches and gives you more confidence. Winning gives that something extra. You have to work hard because everyone will give everything they have to be in the starting lineup.”
The Lions made only one signing this summer, bringing in Jokin Ezkieta who will spend the year with Bilbao Athletic. Regardless, Martinez explained that the team is still very strong and that the support of the fans makes a big difference.
“Whether or not there are signings Athletic has always competed well. Just look at the first half of last year and then we made a run and almost qualified for Europe. There’s merit in what we did. Our fans value us, love us, and that is the most important thing. Here in Bilbao when there are bad times the fans help us, unite us, and push us. It’s incredible, we are all united.”
After returning from injury, Iñigo Martinez is working hard to be ready for the league opener against Barcelona. He and Yeray formed one of the strongest defensive pairings in Europe last year and will need to continue playing at a high level for the Zurigorri to compete for a place in Europe.