Porto coach Conceicao again frustrated with Mexico national team amid injury concerns

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The coach spoke out after all three of his players involved with El Tri were affected by injury during the March FIFA break

Porto manager Sergio Conceicao again has criticized the Mexico national team, saying Porto knows its El Tri stars better than the Mexican coaching staff after all three had injury issues during the March international break.

Hector Herrera traveled for Mexico's matches against Iceland and Croatia but didn't play after it was determined he was carrying a leg injury. Diego Reyes left Tuesday's game against Croatia with discomfort in his hamstring, while Jesus Corona was held out of Tuesday's contest with an ankle injury.

"Clubs normally are the ones harmed by the national teams. The three Mexican players went to the squad in perfect conditions to play a football game, but all three came back with injury issues," Conceicao said at a news conference Sunday. "For the rest of the tournament, how is it going to be? He's defending the players for the World Cup, which is in a month and a half, but Porto FC is the one that pays the players' salaries. I don't understand.

"Honestly, I think it was good sometimes to open a little bit about how the dynamic is in the life of a club. In the case of FC Porto, it's like the mechanics of Formula 1. We prepare everything in detail: we worry about sleep, recovery, with all the variations that could be important for a player to be at his peak physically.

"We spend all year with the players, we have a deep knowledge of each one and I don't think a coaching staff that is with the player for three days knows him as well as we do. We have not received any messages from anyone, even though there has been good communication between the medical department of the Mexican team and ours."

Corona did not travel to Lisbon for Monday's match against Belenenses. Herrera and Reyes made the trip, though Reyes spent Sunday morning working out apart from the team in the gym.

Asked about Herrera's condition prior to El Tri's match against Croatia, Osorio paused to gather his thoughts and clearly chose his words carefully. 

"I think it's well known that every medical department has different practices," he said. "Here with the national team, and what we concern ourselves with along with our very good medical department, we prefer to support everything with evidence. Hector Herrera had a scan and we knew, according to what the doctor explained, that he wasn't in condition to play."

Osorio went on to say his staff had allowed Herrera and Porto to decide when he would return, though he wouldn't have rushed him back for Tuesday's match in any case.

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"If we'd pressured him to play there could've been serious consequences for him, and personally I'd really regret that, and even more so in the name of Mexican soccer," Osorio said. "I hope Porto, with the professionalism it's known for, will make a responsible decision and keep the health of our very important player in mind."

Both managers' comments are evidence of a rift between the Mexico national team and Porto, and it's not the first time Conceicao has expressed frustration with Osorio.

After Mexico clinched World Cup qualification in September, Osorio spoke of personalized training plans for each player — leading Conceicao to call the plans "absolutely ridiculous," saying Porto had the best plan for each player.

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