Bilbao still reeling over Llorente

Athletic Bilbao striker Aritz Aduriz admits the Fernando Llorente saga is still casting a shadow over the club.

Football News: Fernando Llorente.

The Spain forward's relationship with the Basque side has turned sour this season and last month it was confirmed he will join Juventus in the summer, but he remains an Athletic player for the rest of the campaign.

Aduriz told El Mundo Deportivo: "It is an uncomfortable situation for everyone. For him, for us, for everyone.

"All he, too, wants is to finish discussing such matters and that we focus a bit on what really interests us, which is that the team comes out ahead.

"This week, for example, very little has been said of the match against Espanyol."

After their brilliant campaign last season, capped by reaching the Europa League final, Bilbao struggled from the start this term and crashed out of Europe in the group stages.

But there are finally encouraging signs, with Marcelo Bielsa's side unbeaten in three matches, including a 3-0 victory over second-placed Atletico Madrid.

Aduriz said: "We had a very uneven start, very turbulent, with many things that have not benefited us at all. No results have been with us.

"We have been burdened enough. We struggled a bit to turn all that. Now we are in a moment of being able to do better and to resume all that good feeling from last year."

Aduriz returned to his first professional club last summer and his form has been a much-needed bright spot. With 12 La Liga goals, he has already equalled his best ever tally and he will be looking for more against Espanyol tomorrow.

The 31-year-old said: "You always try to get better every year and above all, help the team. What I can bring is to try to score goals. Sometimes more successfully and others less. I hope to continue to contribute to the team. That is what matters most."

Athletic will be without both Inigo Perez (ankle) and Carlos Gurpegi (hamstring) tomorrow while Espanyol, one place below their opponents in 14th but on a very good run of form, are missing three players.

Cristian Gomez is injured, Raul Baena banned and Wakaso not yet back from African Nations Cup duty but Javi Lopez and Victor Sanchez are available after suspension.

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