Diego Simeone believes Atletico Madrid have enough depth to cope with some impending fixture congestion as they prepare for the first leg of their Copa del Rey fourth-round tie with Reus Deportiu.
The trip to Catalunya will be the first in a sequence of six games in the space of 20 days, which includes an important Champions League clash with Benfica.
Atletico are enjoying a run of 10 games without defeat, seven of which have been draws, but suffered a blow in the 1-0 Liga victory over Espanyol on Saturday, with midfielder Tiago suffering a broken leg.
However, Simeone is confident the depth of his squad means they will be able to cope in the absence of the Portuguese veteran as they enter a hectic period.
“We re-armed the team [against Espanyol] with Saul, Oliver and Koke – three lads from our youth academy,” Simeone said.
“The competition gives everyone a chance to play and that’s good for everyone and for the team.
“Saul, should play there [in Tiago’s role]. He knows the zone, and we have [Matias] Kranevitter arriving soon to cover that position.”
Gabi missed Atletico’s weekend clash with Espanyol through suspension and could return to the first team, providing Simeone with an additional option in midfield.
The game is likely to come too soon for Jackson Martinez, though, with the Colombian unlikely to be risked as he continues his recovery from an ankle sprain.
Atletico have lifted the trophy on 10 separate occasions, most recently in 2013 when they defeated arch rivals Real Madrid in the final, and last season were eliminated by Barcelona in the quarter-finals
Reus may fancy their chances of a shock result, though, with an impressive record of one loss in 15 matches so far this season helping to put them top of Group 3 in the Segunda B.
Edgar Hernandez’s seven league goals and former Real Madrid youth player Alex Colorado’s total of six has helped propel them to the summit.
Natxo Gonzalez’s team have eliminated Asco, Arandina and Lleida Esportiu en route to this stage and their only defeat on home soil this term came against Sabadell in the Copa Catalunya.
Curro Torres and Nacho Gil could return to the starting line-up at the Estadio Camp Nou Municipal, but Miguel Marin will be unavailable as he remains sidelined with a broken leg.
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