Asier Villalibre Misses Atlético Clash With Muscle Injury, Iñigo Lekue Returns To The Squad

Asier Villalibre Training

Asier Villalibre has missed training with a muscle overload (AC)

As Athletic look forward to being back in action tomorrow many players are well aware that they could see important minutes against Atlético Madrid. Due to the compressed schedule to finish the season La Liga have increased match day squads from 18 players to 23 and coaches will be allowed to make a total of 5 substitutions. Player safety remains the biggest concern, but the changes will also give managers more options.

Gaizka Garitano addressed the changes during his press conference on Saturday while also revealing that Asier Villalibre would not be in the squad. The 22-year-old was expected to take on a more important role following the retirement of Aritz Aduriz, but Garitano explained that Villalibre hasn’t trained this week due to a muscle overload. The Mister hopes to have Villalibre back in the team next week.

On the other hand, Iñigo Lekue did make the squad. Lekue suffered a ankle sprain on 12 May and only returned to training this Wednesday. “He is much better, he’s close to being fully healthy now,” said Garitano. Oscar De Marcos was also included in the team for the first time since undergoing ankle surgery back in December.

Garitano has had five weeks to get the team ready for Sunday, but the biggest question is what formation the manager will use. Since January Athletic played with three center-backs on numerous occasions, but went back to the traditional 4-2-3-1 just before the break. Regardless of the formation, Atlético Madrid pose a serious threat and the Zurigorri will have to be at their best to take all three points at San Mamés.

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