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Atlanta United injury update: Could Josef Martínez play Sunday?

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Updates on Josef Martínez, Tito Villalba, George Bello and more.

MLS: LA Galaxy at Atlanta United FC Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Atlanta United was back on the training ground Friday after the team’s win in the U.S. Open Cup over Orlando City SC, and Frank de Boer gave injury updates to several of Atlanta’s key players.

Josef Martínez

Josef is the most important name on this list, if not for his production, than due to Atlanta having no direct replacement considering Brandon Vazquez remains out of action with a groin injury.

Martínez was on the training ground for Atlanta Friday, and Frank de Boer said afterwards that he is day-to-day, and that Martínez looked like he was at about 85% of his typical explosiveness according to the manager. Considering Josef’s importance to the team, it’s unlikely de Boer would risk him unless he is confident that the Venezuelan striker is 100% fit. Anything less than that, and it’s hard to see de Boer risking further injury at this point in the season.

Playing status: Unlikely

Tito Villalba

Villalba earned his first minutes since injuring his knee against the New York Red Bulls in May in the win over Orland on Tuesday, It was the Argentine’s second consecutive appearance in the matchday squad, as he was selected as part of the 18 for Atlanta’s match against the LA Galaxy. He did not play in that game, and afterward Frank de Boer said he never was going to get a chance on the field that day — instead just using the opportunity as another step in the player’s reintegration into the squad.

De Boer said Villalba is available for slightly more time Sunday vs. NYCFC, as much as ~20 minutes if needed. De Boer admitted the staff is practicing patience with Villalba, whose trademark hard sprints are more stressful on the body and lead to more rapid physical degeneration.

Playing status: Substitute

Ezequiel Barco

The Atlanta Journal Constitution’s Doug Roberson reported Tuesday that de Boer planned to play Barco for 45 minutes against Orlando (he got 48 instead). Friday, de Boer said that with more rest heading into the NYCFC game, Barco could play 70 minutes or more, depending on what the game calls for and how the player is feeling/performing.

Playing status: Starter, likely to be subbed

George Bello

Bello began Friday’s training session with the first team before joining ATLUTD 2 as the USL side prepares for a game that also takes place Sunday. Why the midsession change? The first team started earlier. Bello only left the session when ATLUTD 2 began theirs, and he stayed with Stephen Glass’s side for the remainder of the morning. He will play with ATLUTD 2 this weekend. Bello only has one appearance since returning from his extended absence due to groin surgery — 45 minutes for ATLUTD 2 last Friday. He said after that match that he felt like he could’ve played longer, so it stands to reason that he will be given at least an hour this weekend.

Playing status: ATLUTD 2 starter for 60-90 minutes