Jackson Martinez is in line to make his first Atletico Madrid appearance for a month when Diego Simeone’s men seek to build on their slender Copa del Rey first-leg advantage at home to Reus Deportiu.
The joint Liga leaders found themselves trailing at the Estadio Camp Nou Municipal when Fran Carbia took advantage of some sloppy defending to put third-tier Reus in front.
Luciano Vietto and Saul Niguez responded to put the Segunda B Group 3 outfit behind in the fourth-round tie and extra firepower could be on the agenda in the return, courtesy of Martinez.
The former Porto striker has missed Atleti’s past seven matches since suffering a sprained ankle while on international duty with Colombia last month.
But he played a full part in training on Tuesday and, according to local media reports, lined up alongside Fernando Torres to spearhead the attack in a likely line-up for Thursday’s match.
Atletico have extended their current winning run to eight matches in Martinez’s absence and Simeone is likely to shuffle his pack, with reserve goalkeeper Miguel Angel Moya, defenders Guilherme Siqueira, Jesus Gamez and Lucas Hernandez and midfielder Thomas Partey all in line for rare starts.
First-leg goalscorer Saul has started his club’s three subsequent matches, stepping in impressively to deputise for Thiago against Granada and also finding the net in 2-1 wins over Benfica in the Champions League and Athletic Bilbao last time out.
Simeone praised the player’s versatility, which allowed him to switch from a 4-4-2 to a 4-3-3 setup after a tricky start against Athletic.
“He has absolute everything – good in the air, intensity, can play anywhere in the middle of the field, he has goals and is good off the ball,” the coach said of the 21-year-old, as quoted by Mundo Deportivo.
“He can play in the middle, on the right as he started [against Athletic] or on the left with three.
“That certainly puts him in a special place. It is no accident that he has reached the goal again. He must continue to grow, listen and improve, adding huge experience and minutes on the field.”
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