Spain hope to have Alexia Putellas fit for their Women’s World Cup opener against Costa Rica on Friday, coach Jorge Vilda said, but warned they will have to carefully manage her fitness.
The reigning two-time Ballon d’Or winner only returned to action in April following a serious knee injury and then withdrew 20 minutes into a training session earlier this week.
“We have one training session to go this afternoon. All players are available to play tomorrow,” Vilda said Thursday on the eve of the match in Wellington.
“In the case of Alexia, it’s optimising to the maximum all of the training sessions that we’ve had to have Alexia with us.”
Vilda said that the 29-year-old attacking midfielder would be closely monitored throughout the World Cup, including group games against Zambia and Japan.
“We are very well aware and very careful of everything that we do and we’re trying every possible means so that Alexia will be in the condition to play tomorrow,” Vilda added.
The sixth-ranked Spaniards missed Putellas’ creativity at last year’s European Championship, where they lost to eventual champions England in the quarter-finals.
Spain’s World Cup preparations were clouded by a player revolt against Vilda that saw 15 players declare themselves unavailable for selection. Three later returned to the World Cup squad.
Real Madrid striker Esther Gonzalez believes Spain have the quality to replace any player that gets injured, describing their tournament preparation as “incredible”.
“We all have the same frame of mind,” Gonzalez said.
“The 23 players are all different and we can contribute different things to the team in different games. We’re strong, we’re united and with a common objective.”
Costa Rica are ranked 36 and qualified through a fourth-placed finish at last year’s CONCACAF W Championship.
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