Pol Espargaro expects Marc Marquez to be 'fast straight away' during their first event as Repsol Honda MotoGP team-mates at Portimao this weekend.

Eight-time world champion Marquez has been sidelined since last July by complications from a fractured right arm, but has finally received the all-clear to ride in round 3 of the 2021 series this weekend.

Honda has been winless since Marquez's injury while new signing Espargaro their top rider in Qatar, where he finished eighth and 13th on his RC213V debut.

"It’s definitely important to have Marc back for the team, for Honda to improve the bike, which has changed quite a lot since the one he rode when he had the injury," Espargaro said.

"I wasn’t here in the past but Marc has seen the progression of the bike in the past years so he’s the one that is going to know the bike. It’s good for all of us. Also for me to push myself a bit more to know where to improve. We have quite high emotions to have him back and it’s going to be great for the show.

"Marc is going to be fast straight away," he added. "I have no doubt about it. He has been testing here with the [RC213V-S] not a long time ago. Marc is Marc. He has been more than 9 years with this bike. He knows the strong and weak points.

"I don’t know how long it’s going to take, but he’ll be fast for sure. We all are waiting for him to be strong and show us what he can do."

Nonetheless, Espargaro puts last November's dominant home winner Miguel Oliveira starts at favourite.

"100%. This racetrack with Miguel reminds me of Nicky Hayden in Laguna Seca. Maybe Nicky was struggling, but every time Nicky was in Laguna he was smashing everyone," Espargaro said.

"This place is quite wild. Whatever the situation with the bike, and I don’t think KTM is in a bad situation but Qatar is Qatar, Miguel is going to be very fast here and is going to be the guy to beat, definitely. I have no doubts."

From his own side, Espargaro is also eager to get on track and convert some of the potential seen in Qatar into race results.

"I’ve not been sleeping much since Qatar. Every time I woke up I was counting (down) to be here," Espargaro said.

"Qatar was a bit unfair to us. We had a performance to be fighting to be on the podium. Our pace was very good. We were catching the front group in both races. But it didn’t pay off because we were starting very far away.

"All we need is a good Saturday. The rest will come. After the two races in Qatar, you see the lap times of everyone, you say,' I was faster than this guy, and I’ve been two positions back of this guy every race'.

"That was a bit painful. So we’re going to go for it this weekend."

Espargaro finished fourth for KTM at Portimao last year, just ahead of the top Honda of Takaaki Nakagami (LCR).