Ander Iturraspe and Oscar De Marcos believe that Fernando Llorente will receive a good reception from Athletic Bilbao’s fans this Thursday.
The striker is set for his first appearance at San Mames after news in the summer of his refusal to sign a new deal with the club was first confirmed.
Whilst the player is still uncertain of his future, his teammates believe that he will be fully supported by the club’s fans, starting this week in the Europa League group stage opener against Hapoel Kiryat Shmona.
“I think the fans at San Mames will receive him well,” Iturraspe enthused.
“I believe that people are aware the transfer market is over, that he is going to stay here.
“I think he is going to get a good reception and I think it will be for the good of Athletic, the club, the fans and everyone.”
Llorente came off the bench to score in Los Leones’ 3-3 draw at the weekend away to Espanyol, which De Marcos believes served him well.
“The other day against Espanyol he showed the type of player he is,” De Marcos reflected.
“I’m happy for him. The goal was good for him and also for us, it is very important that a player like him returns to scoring as soon as possible.
“He did so with the first ball he touched and we are excited for him. Llorente is doing well, he scores goals whenever it suits him.
“After scoring this weekend he looks happier, after the complicated situation of the recent past.”
The duo both admitted, however, that Athletic’s real concern from the start of the season is not scoring goals, but conceding them. Both suggested that ‘gaps’ and ‘points of failure’ at the back were to explain for the team’s poor start to the season, and for the 12 goals conceded from four League games.
Iturraspe, however, also believes that the team is ‘improving and adapting to the competition, which will be balanced with the Europa League again this year.
“Last year we experienced the most beautiful nights of football in the Europa League, and we hope to hit the ground running and gain all three points in the first group game against Hapoel Kiryat Shmona.
“Having been a finalist last time around can be a positive factor for Athletic. We will have great knowledge, we have to play with this and take advantage of it,” concluded the No 8.