Valverde plays down Muniain knock

Athletic Bilbao boss Ernesto Valverde insists Iker Muniain’s recent thigh knock “isn’t important” and expects him to be back in full training next week.

It had been reported that the attacker suffered a further blow after seven months out with knee ligament damage, but his Coach played down the severity of his latest injury as he bids to match the fitness levels of his teammates.

“When you’re in a good dynamic, you’d prefer to continue, but the international break doesn’t hurt because the calendar between now and Christmas is very difficult, so we have to be responsive,” he said at a Press conference.

“We now want to take the next step of conveying to our fans the impression that we can aspire to play in Europe [and maintain our progress in La Liga].

“Granada have been somewhat inconsistent with their performances.

“In Gijon and Cornella, they dropped four points they had seemingly earned, which would’ve put the in a more comfortable situation.

“We get the feeling that their position in the table is misleading.

“[Muniain’s thigh injury] isn’t important. It’s not caught us by surprise because it’s inevitable, given he’s trying to adjust to the pace of the first team.

“[On Ager Axetxe leaving in January], it’s a possibility, but we have to sit down and speak with him.

“However, no-one will leave before Christmas because we have a very tight schedule and we don’t know how it will go.

“We’ll see how we respond in regards to injuries, dynamics and rhythm. We have time to think about these.

“[On the match between Catalonia and Basque Country at Camp Nou on December 27, only three days before the match at Celta Vigo], our link with the Basque national team is beyond any doubt, but this year the circumstances have changed.

“We’ll see how it goes, but I see it as an important match to prepare for the game on the 30th.”

Tags Ernesto Valverde