Monaco manager Leonardo Jardim has indicated Radamel Falcao is ready to lead his attack in the Champions League opener against Tottenham on Wednesday night (14 September), after the former Chelsea and Manchester United striker returned to action over the weekend following a long injury lay-off. The Portuguese boss is also optimistic about the return to action of Danijel Subasic, but added the goalkeeper faces a late fitness test to determine whether he is ready to start.
Falcao helped Monaco secure qualification for the Champions League group stage by scoring in both legs of the play-off against Fenerbahce. However, his promising start to the campaign was hampered after he suffered a muscle injury, missing the double tie against Villarreal, and the first three Ligue 1 games of the season.
The Colombian international returned to action in the second-half of the 4-1 victory over Lille on Saturday (10 September) and Jardim has hinted he is set to be his number nine at Wembley, although may not be ready to complete the whole game.
"If he played a full 90 minutes in the last game, he would have definitely been struggling to play two games in four days," the boss said in the press conference ahead of the visit to Tottenham. "The fact he only played 25 minutes means he could feature tomorrow night and if he does, we'll see how he is during the game. We've got other ways of setting up. If he has to come off, we've got other solutions on the bench. We'll see how things go."
One way or another Jardim believes that the 30-year-old is set to rediscover his best form this season at Monaco, following his disappointing loan spells at Manchester United and Chelsea.
"I'm convinced Falcao will get back to the level we saw him playing at Porto and Atletico Madrid," he said. "Certainly the work he is putting in to achieve this bodes well for the future and he is certainly striving hard to get back to how he was playing."
Subasic, Thomas Lemar and Guido Carrillo, have also returned to Jardim's match squad to face Tottenham after overcoming various injuries. Subasic had been Monaco's number one for the opening games of the season but missed the victory over Lille over the weekend due to a thigh issue, with Morgan de Sanctis replacing him between the sticks. Jardim suggests he could make his line-up should he pass a late fitness test during Tuesday's workout.
"Subasic suffered an injury against Paris. Then he has been under treatment during some time. He has trained the last five days normally. We will make a final decision (on whether he starts) after the training session," the boss confirmed.
Monaco suffered a 4-1 defeat at White Hart Lane last year during the Europe League group stages. However, Jardim has warned Tottenham to expect a tougher test this time.
"It should be a fairly close game. In comparison to last season, we are less fragile than in December and we've strengthened. Spurs are a very competitive team, but we've got our plans that will hopefully help us," he explained. "We're going out to try and win the game. The team are in a good place at the moment and our form is good in Ligue 1. Hopefully we'll put in a good performance that will allow us to get on the right path to qualification."