Madrid: Champions Atletico Madrid will be boosted by the return from injury of midfielder Koke for Sunday`s La Liga game at fifth-placed Sevilla, coach Diego Simeone said on Saturday.
Koke picked up a hamstring strain in the 4-0 victory at home to Real Madrid on Feb. 7 and Atletico have stumbled in his absence, losing 2-0 at Celta Vigo in La Liga and falling 1-0 at Bayer Leverkusen in their Champions League last 16, first leg.
"I am very pleased," Simeone told a news conference after he named Koke, a Spain international, in the squad for the game in Seville. "He is a different type of player and we need him.
"He understands the game very well. He can play in different parts of the pitch. He is very good at set pieces.
"We are assessing whether he will play from the start tomorrow, which is likely."
Champions Atletico are third in La Liga with 14 games left, three points behind second-placed Barcelona, who play at struggling Granada later on Saturday, and seven adrift of leaders Real, who entertain Villarreal on Sunday.
Simeone`s men have managed to stay in contention in La Liga and reach the Champions League knockout round despite losing three of their best players in the close season.
Top scorer Diego Costa, goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois and fullback Filipe Luis all departed for Chelsea, with the likes of Mario Mandzukic, Antoine Griezmann and Fernando Torres moving to the Calderon.
"I don`t compare this team with last year`s because there are a lot of new players," Simeone said.
"And, as I have always said, I think we can evaluate what this group did at the end because it`s different from last season`s squad.
"I would say the season this group is having up to now is good and the end will determine whether it is very good or just stays good."