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Mexico manager Martino confident Lozano can recover for Gold Cup

6:44 AM MYT 30/04/2019
Hirving Lozano Mexico
The El Tri coach says the winger can recover in time for this summer's tournament, even after PSV shut him down for the rest of the season

Mexico manager Tata Martino is confident El Tri star Hirving Lozano will be able to recover from a knee injury and play with the national team at this summer's Gold Cup.

PSV shut down the 23-year-old for the rest of the season on Monday, though just two matches remain in the Eredivisie season. Martino said with a longer timetable, and the positive news that he did not suffer ligament damage in the April 25 incident, the winger should be able to play in the Concacaf championship.

"The reality is he has a knee injury that isn't as serious as it looked like when you saw the play. It's clear that PSV was going to rule him out because there are only a few more dates and with this grade of injury, he isn't going to be able to play them," Martino said at a news conference Monday. "At the same time, I don't think he should have any type of problem to play in the Gold Cup. The timing allows for him to be able to recover well and to participate.

"We'd never try to make him return too soon or risk it, but we're really confident that he is going to be able to participate in the Gold Cup."

In addition to the Gold Cup this summer, which Mexico will try to reclaim after an alternative side fell short in the semifinals in 2017, Lozano also is widely expected to make a summer transfer to a larger club. After he was stretchered off against Willem II last week there was concern that a move would have to be put on hold, but Lozano now seems set to make a full recovery well before the summer window closes.

“I am relieved I have not picked up ligament injury," Lozano said in a PSV news release. “I will start a rehabilitation program and do my utmost to return to full fitness as soon as possible.”

If Lozano is fit, there is little doubt he will be on the Gold Cup roster. The tournament regulations are changing for this edition, and Martino will not have the luxury of his predecessors who could make six changes to the roster between the group and knockout stages. That puts more pressure on the coach to choose his initial roster carefully. 

Martino said Monday that 80 percent of players he'll call already have been part of a Mexico camp under his coaching staff, which took over at the start of the year. Taken at his word, that could mean four or five newcomers. Porto midfielder Hector Herrera is one player who is expected to be included. Less clear is the situation of his Porto teammate Jesus "Tecatito" Corona, who originally was called in for the March friendly matches but stayed in Porto, sparking a dispute between the club and the Mexican federation.

Carlos Vela wasn't part of the March games either, but Martino said MLS' current leading scorer will be considered - not because of his good form but because of the player he is generally.

"It's not about what he's doing right now, Carlos has been doing that for a long time. He's having an extraordinary start to the season, and surely in the short-term, we'll have to make a decision not only with respect to him but with the entire list we have to give," Martino said. "We're not only going to play the Gold Cup but there's also a FIFA date and the friendlies. So we'll have to extend ourselves a bit more in the quantity of players who will play the two friendlies and adjust to 23 when we have to give the definitive list for the Gold Cup."

The first of those friendlies takes place June 5 at Atlanta's Mercedez-Benz Stadium against Venezuela with the second set for June 9 against Ecuador in Arlington, Texas' AT&T Stadium.