Barcelona coach Xavi Hernandez has offered fitness update on attackers Ousmane Dembele and Ansu Fati who are both currently sidelined through injury.
Dembele has been out since January with a thigh problem, while Barcelona confirmed this week that Fati had suffered a bruised knee during a training session and was unavailable for selection.
Xavi told a pre-match press conference ahead of his team’s trip to Almeria in La Liga that Fati’s injury was not serious. The Barcelona coach also confirmed Ronald Araujo was fit after being substituted in the defeat against Manchester United.
“Araujo is 100% and Ansu got knocked up a bit in training yesterday. I don’t expect him to play tomorrow but Thursday he’ll be ready,” he told reporters.
The Barcelona coach then offered some more detail on Dembele’s recovery but stoppage short of offering a return date for the France international.
“He’s good. Yesterday he trained with us. He seems in good form. He’s not 100% yet but he’s just about ready to come back with the group. It depends on how he feels as well.” he said. “We can’t force it. We trust in his judgement to announce his return, but he’s doing good so far and that’s important.”
Follow the Heavy on Barcelona Facebook page for the latest breaking news, rumors and content!
Ferran Torres To Profit From Injuries?
One player who is likely to profit from the absence of both Dembele and Fati is forward Ferran Torres. The Spain international has openly admitted he hit “rock bottom” this season after losing form but is on the recovery trail.
Torres is an option to start in attack alongside Robert Lewandowski and Raphinha against Almeria, and Xavi says he has seen an improvement in the former Manchester City man recently.
“I think there has been a change, a switch in mentality. The other game at home helped him gain confidence, which he still needed to make a difference,” he explained. “The other day it went very well and he will be important in the next games.”
Barcelona face another crucial week in their hunt for trophies. Sunday’s visit to Almeria is swiftly followed by the first leg of their Copa del Rey semi-final clash against bitter rivals Real Madrid.
Xavi will have Fati back for the match but will have to continue without Dembele for the time being.
When Could Dembele Return?
Dembele’s return to group training suggests that the France international is not too far away from being available for selection. However, given his long history of injuries it’s no surprise to see Barcelona being careful with the forward.
There is hope at Barcelona that Dembele could be back for the game against Athletic Club in La Liga on March 12, according to Marta Ramon at RAC1.
Dembele has been missed during his most recent absence. The forward has been a key player for Barcelona this season, scoring 7 goals and contributing 8 assists in all competitions for the Catalan giants.
READ NEXT: Barcelona Send Out Strong Ansu Fati Warning