Baptista gives Malaga a lift

Good news for Malaga in their pursuit of Champions League football after learning that Julio Baptista could be back before the end of the season.

The former Sevilla and Real Madrid striker has not played since injuring a foot in a 3-2 home victory over Getafe last October when he signed off with a spectacular overhead kick winner. However, he has been in his native Brazil having treatment for the past few weeks and a report in La Opinion de Malaga indicates he will be back sooner than expected to bolster boss Manuel Pellegrini’s attacking options.

The 30-year-old, originally understood to be out for the season, was due back on the Costa del Sol last weekend but was forced to alter his plans after a strike by Iberia pilots delayed his return from Sao Paulo. Nonetheless, sources close to the club suggest the game with Osasuna in Pamplona on April 23 could be pencilled in as a possible comeback date, which will be a relief to Pellegrini as he has seen some key members of his squad succumb to injury in recent weeks.

Influential midfielder Jeremy Toulalan has been ruled out until next season with a foot injury while goalkeeper Willy Caballero broke a bone in his left hand at Espanyol two weeks ago and will also be absent for the rest of the campaign. Joaquin Sanchez is another who has struggled with injury, having missed the last two games, but he could figure against Villarreal on Thursday although next Sunday’s home game against Real Sociedad is a more likely option for the Spanish international.

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