Barcelona appear to have avoided any ‘FIFA virus’ issues during the recent international break and should have all their returning stars plus Lionel Messi and Javier Mascherano available for Saturday’s La Liga trip to Osasuna.
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The Catalan club had 12 players away with different countries last week, while the lull in domestic action allowed time for Messi, Mascherano, club captain Carles Puyol and long-time absentee Isaac Cuenca to continue their recoveries from various injury problems.
Blaugrana boss Gerardo Martino will likely look to continue his rotation policy at Osasuna -- as his side face into a demanding schedule of seven games in 23 days, including home and away Champions League group games against Milan, and Oct. 26’s La Liga Clasico against Real Madrid at the Camp Nou.
A club statement released after training on Wednesday evening gave details of the situation.
“FC Barcelona are nearly back to full strength this Wednesday as many of the internationals returned to training,” the statement said. “The seven Spain internationals trained with the first team this evening. Alex Song is expected to return on Thursday.
"Neymar and Dani Alves, who had just arrived from China, received permission from the coaching staff to miss the session. Alexis Sanchez, who played for his country early Tuesday morning, is expected back in training on Thursday. Messi, Mascherano, Cuenca and Puyol – all of whom are recovering from injury -- trained with the team.”
The one slight issue for Martino is a thigh injury picked up by reserve midfielder Sergi Roberto with Spain under-21s, but that is not expected to be a serious problem.
“Sergi Roberto, who picked up an injury to his right thigh, trained apart from the group,” the statement said. “He is expected to train with the team on Thursday.”