Atlanta United’s Josef Martinez is back and appears fit

October 24, 2019 Atlanta - Atlanta United forward Josef Martinez (7) celebrates after he scored a goal in the second half during Eastern Conference semifinals of MLS playoffs at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Thursday, October 24, 2019. Atlanta United won 2-0 over the Philadelphia Union. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)
October 24, 2019 Atlanta - Atlanta United forward Josef Martinez (7) celebrates after he scored a goal in the second half during Eastern Conference semifinals of MLS playoffs at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Thursday, October 24, 2019. Atlanta United won 2-0 over the Philadelphia Union. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Atlanta United striker Josef Martinez is healthy and participating in training, and the expectation is he will be available to start the team’s first game, against Alajuelense in the Champions League on April 6.

Team Vice President Carlos Bocanegra on Friday provided the update about the key player, saying, “He’s been working hard. It’s been a long road, physically and mentally, on top of a COVID year.”

Martinez suffered a season-ending knee injury in the first league game of the 2020 season at Nashville. He underwent surgery to repair a torn ACL in March 2020.

Before that, Martinez arguably was one of the greatest finishers in MLS history, with 77 goals in 83 games.

Bocanegra said the team doesn’t expect Martinez to play like a 30-goal scorer April 6. But after watching during the team’s first training sessions, Bocanegra said “his movement, shooting and tackling with teammates, he looks like the old Josef.”

Martinez may be limited in some training sessions, Bocanegra said, as a precaution that the team uses with any player returning from injury.

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