Bielsa denies bust-up with Llorente

The former Argentina coach is adamant the striker is not in the right condition to play a full 90 minutes in the Basques' first competitive outing of the new season
Athletic Bilbao boss Marcelo Bielsa has revealed that Fernando Llorente will not start Thursday evening's Europa League clash with Slaven Belupo, but insists his decision was not down to an alleged falling out with the forward.

There have been reports that the Argentine had a bust-up with his star striker, but the veteran coach explained the Spain international's demotion to the bench is solely a question of match fitness.

"He has had two weeks' less work," Bielsa told reporters at his pre-game press conference, alluding to Llorente's involvement in Euro 2012. "So, this is an issue that concerns only two parties: the footballer and the club."

Bielsa did, though, have a major dispute with his employers over his very public criticism of the state of the club's training facilities upon their return from the summer break.

Consequently, he has decided to stage fewer press conferences this season, explaining that he felt it "seemed prudent".

"That's all I'd like to say on these matters," he admitted. "I'd rather not allow them to manifest into something else.

"Starting from tomorrow, we start competing again and it's better that I express myself through the results of the team. That's the most important part of my job."

Athletic's clash with their Croatian opponents will kick off at the San Mames at 21:00UTC.