Football
Oblak still out but Simeone hopes for imminent return

Oblak still out but Simeone hopes for imminent return

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It had been rumoured than Jan Oblak could return this weekend but Atletico Madrid have not named him in their matchday squad.
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Atletico Madrid goalkeeper Jan Oblak remains sidelined with a shoulder injury but head coach Diego Simeone hopes he will return soon.

The Slovenia international had surgery in December after he was hurt when attempting to claim a cross in Atletico's 3-0 defeat away to Villarreal.

Oblak began individual outdoor training sessions this week and it had been rumoured that he could be included in the squad for Saturday's LaLiga match with Sporting Gijon, although he was ultimately left out.

But Simeone hopes that he and midfielder Tiago - who has a knee problem - will be able to return to full training soon.

"They're both okay," he told a news conference. "Tiago is moving more naturally, Jan too. We hope that we'll be able to count on them as soon as possible."

Simeone also confirmed that Lucas Hernandez could be involved against both Sporting and Bayer Leverkusen, despite him facing a court case on the same day as the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie.

"Lucas could play [on Saturday] and Tuesday if the coach decides that he should," said Simeone, who is still unable to call on injured centre-back Diego Godin.

Atletico are in need of three points as they attempt to close the four-point gap to Sevilla in third, but they face a resurgent Sporting who claimed a first league win since December last time out against fellow strugglers Leganes.

"We look forward to every match with the same desire to play well, to bring the game to where we're most comfortable playing, but always keeping in mind the necessity our rival has for points," Simeone said.

"They had a good win in their fight against Leganes and that brings momentum to their team, the atmosphere, the stadium. We'll have to take all that into account and try to play the type of game that we like to play.


"We always try to manage things in a certain way, taking it game by game and then seeing the results over the course of the season. We have to run, we have to work, to try and win as many points as we can without losing sight of what's important: improving every game.

"Sporting come into this match on the back of a very important win. That generates motivation, belief and, in football, those can be superior forces, capable of even overcoming talent sometimes.

"The pressure to compete at the top has always been there, that's always what's expected from the players but in the past five years they have responded very well in all the competitions we've played in and have raised their game, which in turn has raised expectations around the club and from the critics, but the responsibility is always there."

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