Ernesto Valverde has just two players remaining on the treatment table as Barcelona prepare to host Deportivo La Coruna at Camp Nou on Sunday.
Barcelona will welcome Deportivo La Coruna at Camp Nou on Sunday not just looking to extend their fine unbeaten run, but also knowing that they could widen the gap over Real Madrid to 11 points heading into next weekend’s El Clasico.
Ahead of Sunday’s encounter though, Ernesto Valverde’s injury problems are easing up, with just Gerard Deulofeu (knee) and Samuel Umtiti (hamstring) unavailable. While the latter’s absence is concerning, Javier Mascherano has returned to provide the Barcelona boss with an additional option in defence.
The Argentine has been included in the matchday squad for Sunday, as has been Andres Iniesta, who is available again after a minor calf injury. And Valverde confirmed in his pre-match press conference that the duo are likely to be available.
“We are optimistic but we have to wait until after the training to find out for sure. At the moment, we think they will be available.”
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There’s more good news in the form of Rafinha and Ousmane Dembele resuming light training. But, the two players are still a long way off regaining full match fitness, and Valverde is only hoping to have them back by January.
“He [Dembele] is doing well, he has started working out with the group but he hasn’t completed all the trainings. Next week, we will increase the workload. We are hoping he will be available in January. Before then would be premature and risky.”
“He [Rafinha] has been injured a long time and has now been with the team for another week. He has worked incredibly hard to get fit and doing so on your own is very tough. It is time for him to re-join the team but we need to be careful with muscular problems. We hope he will be available to help out in January.”
Finally, Valverde also added that he will take a call on Sergio Busquet’s participation in the match, with the Spain international one booking away from being suspended, although he insisted that he is only focusing on the match against Deportivo for now.
“You never know how the games will go. The most important three points are the next ones. He could get a yellow card at any moment, we will decide tomorrow.”