‘Media overhype Llorente stories’

Ander Iturraspe has looked to play down the reports of a rift between Marcelo Bielsa and Fernando Llorente at Athletic Bilbao.

Llorente has yet to start a game for Bielsa upon his return from the summer exile and it is rumoured to have influenced the falling out between the pair at training yesterday.

However, Iturraspe is focusing on the fact Llorente returned to training today and is named in the Europa League squad as evidence that the situation has been blown out of proportion by the media.

“Other seasons have seen other cases between other Coaches and players, but when it is with Llorente, the Press gives it more hype, it’s normal,” the midfielder reflected today.

“There have been no implications nor should there have been. The team stands on the sidelines, we know the reality. There’s no getting around it. It has happened and that’s that.

“With the recent results it has been harder at training, but that’s when you have to train the most. The workouts are very important.”

Recent results include last weekend’s 2-0 defeat to Real Sociedad in the Basque derby.

“The first 15 minutes of the second half at Anoeta were very bad for us. We are frustrated after losing, as is always the case. Losing a derby is difficult. We have to return to positive feelings soon. Already we have shown another level to our play and so we need to find that again. At the moment things are not going well, so it is clear that we are to blame.”

The team’s first opportunity to regain some positive feelings comes on Thursday with a trip to Sparta Prague in the Europa League group stages.

“This game is very important to us. We had bad luck in the home game with Hapoel. We need to win and play well.

“The Osasuna game [next weekend] is in the background, when we complete the game in Prague then we will think towards Osasuna.”

Tags Iturraspe Llorente