Athletic Bilbao have been struggling this season under Cuco Ziganda, not least in the goal-scoring department, so the return to training of Iker Muniain was a welcome sight at Lezama on Tuesday.
Muniain has been given the green light to resume playing after recovering from a cruciate ligament tear – the second of his career – with club doctors confirming “there have been no complications and his clinical improvement allows him to now do physical and technical work with the team.”
Muniain suffered the injury to his right knee in a Europa League match against Zorya Luhansk last September, a little over two years after the ligament in his left knee snapped during a Liga match against Sevilla in the Sánchez Pizjuán in April 2015.
Muniain: " Hopefully I can repay the warmth the fans have shown me"
Ziganda is pondering whether to include Muniain in his squad for the match against Celta this weekend at San Mamés and the sight of the 25-year-old will be welcome relief for Athletic fans, who have seen their side hit a paltry 13 goals at home this season.
“I’m very happy to have recovered from this latest injury and to be fit again,” Muniain said on Tuesday. “I’m happy to be available for the team and the gaffer again to help my teammates in the games we have remaining. Hopefully I can repay all the warmth and affection Athletic fans have shown me during this perios on the pitch.”
Athletic sit 13th in LaLiga and were knocked out of the Copa del Rey by third-tier Formentera in the round of 32. In Europe, Ziganda guided his side to the last 16 where they were beaten 5-2 on aggregate by Marseille.