Diego Godin
Diego Godin is the leader of Atletico Madrid back-line.Getty.

Atletico Madrid star Diego Godin has taken a step forward in his rehabilitation from an injury he sustained earlier this month, returning to training sessions on 31 March. The news is a massive boost for manager Diego Simeone ahead of a decisive week for the Colchoneros, as they prepare to host Real Betis at the weekend before the Champions League quarter-final first leg versus Barcelona on 5 April.

Simeone had feared a major crisis in the centre of his defence for the trip to the Nou Camp after Stefan Savic, Jose Maria Jimenez and Godin himself were all labelled as doubts for the game, suffering various fitness issues in recent weeks.

Vice-captain Godin was ruled out for three weeks after he limped off in the penalty shootout victory over PSV Eindhoven on 15 March, with Gimenez joining him on the treatment table just four days later during the league defeat to Sporting Gijon. Savic was also doubtful for the game with Barcelona after having been on the sidelines since the last-16 first-leg match with PSV on 24 February.

The situation ahead of the crucial trip to Barcelona deteriorated further for Simeone during the international break, after the club revealed that Lucas Hernandez – who is the other specialist for the role – the versatile Saul Niguez and Yannick Ferreria Carrasco had joined them on the treatment table, picking up problems while playing for their national teams.

However, the Argentine manager can breathe easier, with his injury woes not as bad as first thought. Savic, Lucas and Saul, nevertheless, returned to the training sessions earlier this week, while the club have confirmed though the official website that Godin joined them on Thursday – although the centre-back is yet to receive medical clearance.

Savic and Lucas will be probably in the starting line-up against Betis on Saturday, but the Uruguayan is expected to be back to partner the former against Barcelona three days later.

Ferreira Carrasco is also tipped to return for the trip to Barca match. Thus, as things stand, Gimenez and long-term injury worry Tiago would be the only significant absentees for the Champions League quarter-final against the Catalans.

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