Alexis Sanchez will be treated with caution by Chile but he is still set to play a key role in the nation’s upcoming World Cup qualifiers, head coach Jorge Sampaoli has said.
The Arsenal attacker has had an up-and-down 2015-16 campaign since helping his country to Copa America glory in the close-season.
After failing to score in his first six Premier League games, Sanchez had a flurry of six goals in three league matches. Now, though he is on a run of five fixtures without a goal in all competitions.
Arsene Wenger has spoken publicly about the 26-year-old’s risk of burnout, describing him as “exhausted” and lamenting the lack of opportunities to rest him due to the Gunners’ important run of fixtures.
Following Wenger’s recent spat with Wales boss Chris Coleman over an injury to Aaron Ramsey suffered on an international duty, Sampaoli chose his words carefully while praising his player’s condition.
The Chile boss said: “Alexis will be treated with caution but he is eager to play and gave his all in training.
“From what I saw Alexis looked very well, in an incredible moment. I am excited to see if he can translate that energy because if Alexis does what he knows how to do on the pitch, we will have many possibilities to win.”
Chile are on a 10-match unbeaten run and won their opening two qualifiers against Brazil and Peru ahead of their upcoming clashes with Colombia and Uruguay.
Sampaoli expects Eduardo Vargas to be fit to face Colombia on Thursday despite being troubled by an ankle injury, meaning he could line up with Sanchez in attack after the duo scored three goals apiece in the first two games of the campaign.
The coach added: “We had the results – Eduardo has an ankle problem which is bothering him but we expect it to develop and enable him to act normally.
“Hopefully on Thursday we can have him. Alexis and Eduardo are players who complement each other well in attack.”