Palermo returns to Villarreal fold
By Nic Evans. Last Updated: January 1, 1970 1:00am
VILLARREAL'S Argentinian striker Martin Palermo has made an impressive recovery from his broken leg and could yet stake a claim for a place in his country's World Cup squad as he has now begun full training.
Palermo was injured in freak circumstances on November 29, 2001 when he jumped on an advertising hoarding to celebrate a goal during the Copa del Rey game against Levante and overbalanced, breaking his leg after falling awkwardly.
After spending January training in isolation, Palermo began training with the rest of his team-mates on Tuesday and will be pushing to earn a call-up to Marcelo Bielsa's Argentinian squad.
The return of Palermo could not have come at a better time for Villarreal who have been sucked into the relegation catfight that is the bottom of La Liga, where eight teams are separated by four points.
It is also likely to herald the end of Juan Antonio Pizzi's stay in Spain, the veteran 33-year-old is on loan from Argentina's Rosario Central until the end of the season but has failed to impress in his short spell up to now.
However, Palermo has admitted that he is still cautious about raising his hopes for getting into Bielsa's squad.
He recently said: "This is the hardest stage, although the leg is okay. We are following the steps that were planned with the managing team, but it is not good to accelerate the process. If I can, as it happened when I played for Boca Juniors, I will return earlier.
"It is very difficult. I haven't talked to Bielsa (Marcelo, Argentinian coach). Doctor Gastaldi made me be hopeful, but I prefer to think day by day."