Marquez set for Mexico return against Ireland

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The veteran hasn't appeared in a match since March because of a back injury but is expected to see the field Thursday

Mexico coach Juan Carlos Osorio expects Rafa Marquez to take the field Thursday in El Tri's friendly against Ireland.

It would be Marquez's first appearance since the 38-year-old suffered a back injury during a World Cup qualifier against Costa Rica in March. The injury required surgery and kept him out of the rest of Atlas' campaign.

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The player, who sees time at center back and defensive midfield for club and country, is back on the training ground and should be ready to go ahead of Thursday, the final match Mexico will play before World Cup qualification matches against Honduras and the United States.

"He's very close. The idea is to have him participate in the game against Ireland," Osorio told reporters in Denver, where Mexico is training. "We still haven't decided how much time and in what capacity, but he is going to be included."

Juan Carlos Osorio Mexico

Osorio's options at the back took a big hit in the defeat to Croatia when Nestor Araujo suffered a broken hand. The injury is sever enough to have him back in Mexico being attended to by Santos Laguna club staff, and his status for the summer is in doubt.

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"It's unfortunate," the coach said. "Nestor gives us great options because with him we can do a three-man defense, play two center backs and putting Diego [Reyes] on the left, we could push Diego or Rafael forward. The truth is I'm very sad with what happened with Araujo and his absence surely will be noticed."

After Thursday's friendly El Tri face Honduras on June 8 and the U.S. on June 11 before traveling to the Confederations Cup in Russia.

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