Diego Simeone hoping Angel Correa can fill in for Antoine Griezmann
Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone has called on Angel Correa to prove himself worthy of a starting spot as the Argentina international steps in for the suspended Antoine Griezmann in Saturday's La Liga game at Las Palmas.
Atletico started the new La Liga season with a 2-2 draw at newly promoted Girona, with Simeone's side coming from 2-0 down after Griezmann was sent off. Correa sparked the fightback with a superb solo goal.
While Griezmann serves the first game of a two-match ban, Simeone told a news conference that reported Liverpool and Newcastle target Correa has already shown he can change games as a substitute but now needs to show more consistency.
"Angel remains an exciting prospect," Simeone said. "We are waiting for him to find consistency, over time. He can change games for you, and not all players can do that. We have spoken with him in preseason. This is an important year for him, he must take another step.
"His goal last week showed what he can do. He has pace, turns well, dribbles, shoots, is a very complete player. We already know he can make the difference coming off the bench, but he must play consistently for 90 minutes."
Simeone also spoke about another young Argentine striker, Luciano Vietto, who could leave Atletico this summer with Everton, Monaco, Sampdoria and Southampton among those reportedly interested.
"[Vietto] has done a good preseason, is in good form, strong, and enthusiastic," he said. "Unless someone tells me any different, everyone in the squad is available to play."
Atletico have won all five of their most recent visits to Las Palmas, including a 5-0 victory in April. Another factor in their favour is that Las Palmas' summer signing Vitolo cannot play on Saturday under the terms of the complex transfer which saw him join Atletico from Sevilla before being loaned to his hometown club until January.
"I do not see anything favourable about the game," Simeone said. "It is away from home, and they will be very motivated for their first home game of the season. Las Palmas will demand the maximum from us."
Diego Godin is sure to return to the XI for the late kickoff following the end of his suspension, while fit-again Filipe Luis and Kevin Gameiro have also been named in Atletico's 20-man matchday squad.
Thursday's Champions League draw pitted the second seeds against Chelsea, Roma and Qarabag in this season's group stage, with their first game away against the Serie A side on Sept. 12.
"Along with Roma and Chelsea, we start out with the same chance to qualify," Simeone said. "The difficulties are the same for all of us.
"Chelsea had a great season last year. They have very good players, and a coach who can reinvent himself continually, making his teams always competitive. Roma are a spectacular side, with a fantastic coach. We are excited about this group."
Simeone did not speak about the future of Atletico goalkeeper Jan Oblak, linked again recently with a possible move to Paris Saint Germain before the transfer window closes.
Speaking at Thursday's Champions League draw, Atletico director Clemente Villaverde said there was nothing to speculation that PSG were considering triggering the Slovenia international's €100 million release clause.
"Nobody has asked us about Oblak," the former Atletico player said. "We expect him to be our player for a long time."
Dermot Corrigan is a Madrid-based football writer who covers La Liga and the Spain national team for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @dermotmcorrigan