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Simeone expects Joao Felix to play against Real Madrid

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Atletico Madrid boss Diego Simeone expects the injured Joao Felix to feature in their upcoming clash with neighbours Real Madrid.

Record signing Felix has been a growing concern for Atletico after lasting less than half an hour in his debut against Numancia last weekend because of a hip injury.

The 19-year-old was then absent during Wednesday’s International Champions Cup showdown with C.D. Guadalajara in Texas, which saw Atletico beat the Mexican club 5-4 on penalties after drawing 0-0.

However, Los Colchoneros received a welcome boost this week when Felix reported back to training.

And Simeone has now suggested the talented youngster could feature in Saturday’s showdown with Real Madrid.

“He’s a little hurt. It’s an annoying blow, but we need it to be fine,” said Simeone, according to AOL.

“He trained in the morning without problems. I imagine tomorrow he will play for a while or start from the beginning.”

Meanwhile, doubts have been growing over Diego Costa’s Atletico future following the summer arrivals of forwards Felix and Ivan Saponjic.

The former Chelsea striker endured a difficult time last season, with just five goals to his name in 21 appearances amid foot and hamstring problems.

But Simeone is confident Costa will return to top form again as Atletico begin life in the post-Antoine Griezmann era.

“Diego heard me speak in times of difficulty,” said the Argentine.

“I don’t change a comma in everything I think. I am convinced that it will be a great season for him and his team-mates.”

Saul Niguez, on the other hand, is excited by the prospect of taking on Real in New Jersey. Furthermore, the Spanish midfielder warned that Atletico will be taking it very seriously.

“Although it is a friendly match, it is a derby. It is always special, it is the first that is played outside Europe, it makes us very excited to compete tomorrow,” said Saul.

“The really important thing is to prepare for the first official match, but we are going to play as if it were an official match, as if it were a final, because every time you wear the shirt of Atletico Madrid it is to give everything.”

The Madrid derby between Real and Atletico will begin at 02:06 (CET) on Saturday morning.

MADRID, SPAIN – NOVEMBER 06: Saul Niguez of Atletico Madrid celebrates after scoring his team’s first goal during the Group A match of the UEFA Champions League between Club Atletico de Madrid and Borussia Dortmund at Estadio Wanda Metropolitano on November 6, 2018 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images)