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Albion to unleash Vicente
Vicente will be razor-sharp for his second season with Albion.
The Seagulls are now ready to unleash the influential Spaniard in their warm-up matches following the on-off saga of his return.
He will play a half either in tonight’s friendly at Dorchester (7.45pm) or tomorrow at Hastings (3pm) and manager Gus Poyet is excited about the shape Vicente is in.
Poyet told The Argus: “He is looking very good, the best I’ve seen him fitness wise. The quantity of consecutive training sessions he’s had is, I am 100% sure, more than even when he was able to play last year.
“He was recovering constantly then and couldn’t really train every day.
“Now he is spot-on so I am absolutely delighted. He will play 45 minutes in one of the games for sure.”
Vicente is poised to see out the campaign on his existing contract after Albion invoked their second-year option clause amid doubts over his future.
The former Valencia playmaker was being linked with a move back to Spain and returned for pre-season training later than the rest of the squad after becoming a dad for the second time.
Poyet will split his first team squad between the Dorchester and Hastings friendlies. He plans to play most of them for an hour, with development squad prospects on the bench, after using two totally different line-ups in each half of the opening friendlies at Maidstone and Lewes.
The make-up of the sides will depend on several late injury checks. Craig Noone and Marcos Painter were ruled out of the Lewes game with aches and pains, while Craig Mackail-Smith (groin) and Kazenga LuaLua (ankle) both limped off during the 3-0 victory at the Dripping Pan.
LuaLua hurt the same ankle he broke at Hartlepool two seasons ago in a challenge by Lewes substitute Arron Hopkinson which earned Albion a penalty.
Poyet is relieved the damage was not more serious. “It was a bad tackle,” he said. “The ankle was very swollen but Kazenga should be okay to play in one of the games.”
Wayne Bridge is unlikely to make his Albion debut now until next week’s pre-season tour in Southern Spain after pulling out at Maidstone last Saturday during the warm-up with a groin problem.
Development squad striker Ben Dickenson, signed from Dorchester last season, is likely to feature tonight against his old club.
It is unclear whether Poyet, still seeking to add a midfielder and striker to his squad, will have another signing wrapped up by the time Albion fly out of Gatwick on Sunday to prepare for matches against Portsmouth and Cordoba.
He said: “We are still seeing if we can get one before we go to Spain but I’m not so sure.”