Athletic Bilbao defender Mikel San Jose is hoping for better times ahead

Mikel San Jose: Expects better

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Athletic Bilbao defender Mikel San Jose is hoping for better times ahead for the struggling Basque club, following last weekend's impressive victory over Atletico Madrid, and believes their upcoming fixture list offers them the chance to continue their revival.

Last season's double cup finalists have had a hugely disappointing campaign to date but showed what they are capable of on Sunday with a 3-0 mauling of second-placed Atletico at San Mames.

That victory lifted Athletic up to 13th spot, seven points clear of the Primera Division relegation zone, and has sent confidence soaring ahead of tomorrow's trip to Real Valladolid.

Another win would see Athletic join Valladolid on 28 points and, with matches against Espanyol, Real Sociedad and Osasuna coming up, Marcelo Bielsa's men will hope to make further progress up the standings.

San Jose said: "We're ready to continue like thus, but we need to show it on the pitch.

"Now there's a series of games where the team could do well and we want to pick up points. Our league placing is not the best, but now neither is it so bad. The team want to look up and not down, and for that we need to pick up points."

He added: "The team needed a win (against Atletico) after four matches without a victory. Our performances were not being translated into points, but the other day everything went well and we got what we deserved.

"The team is playing well, but we're not getting the rewards. We've gone two games without defeat and this means we are seeing things with more optimism, it gives us confidence to continue playing in the same way."

Bielsa is planning to name an unchanged side for tomorrow's game, with injured striker Fernando Llorente still absent.

Valladolid have a decent home record this season with their only defeats at the Jose Zorrilla since September coming at the hands of big two Barcelona and Real Madrid.

They have not been so good away and were beaten 2-1 at Levante last weekend, but they could have striker Manucho available again following Angola's African Nations Cup exit.

The former Manchester United forward said: "It was a shame to be knocked out, but it will serve as an experience to many of the players who were playing in the competition for the first time. Now I'm focused on Real Valladolid and to continue working and scoring goals to help the team."