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Martino: Barco could return by end of March

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Atlanta United’s manager gives an injury update on several players in the squad, including teenage star Ezequiel Barco

Even with the MLS season having just started, it seems like Atlanta United is already having some trouble staying healthy. Tata Martino was able to give an update on the situations of a few different player with injuries.

Fans have been eagerly awaiting the debut of new signing Ezequiel Barco. He unfortunately picked up a quad injury at the end of preseason that has kept everyone waiting for his return. “Barco is doing good, he had some images done last week and the inflammation has gone down,” said Martino. “So now it depends on how his recovery and rehab process goes. Minnesota could be a possible return date for him but we will have to wait and see.”

“Barco is here with us every day. We try to pick his spirits up,” said fellow Argentinian Leandro Gonzalez Pirez. “We want to stay behind him and be encouraging while he is recovering. He is not happy with his injury situation but we will stay with him while he recovers.”

Pirez is dealing with a nagging injury as well. He was forced to leave the season opener against Houston with a hip injury. “I’m doing better,” he said. “There is some pain but I am still training every day so I will be good to go for this weekend.”

Goalkeeper Mitch Hildebrandt is expected to be out 8-10 weeks with a knee injury he suffered last week in training. “The time frame does sound like a lot, but we were actually expecting worse. So we are glad the injury is not as bad as we initially thought,” said Martino.

Hildebrandt was expected to get a lot of time with ATL UTD 2 in the USL, so for the time being it looks as if either Alec Kann will be able to get some game time or one of the younger goalkeepers will need to step up for them.

Forward Brandon Vasquez was kept out of the match day squad last weekend because of an undisclosed injury at the time. Martino has now confirmed that he was feeling discomfort in his hamstring. He elaborated by saying, “Based on the images done by the doctors, Brandon looks good. So now they are just managing him day to day.

Let’s hope these injuries are cleared up soon so we can finally see a full strength roster for the Five Stripes.