Iniesta available for Barca at Valencia
29 November 2014, 16:52
Barcelona - Barcelona midfielder Andres Iniesta has shaken off a calf strain and is available for Sunday's La Liga clash at Valencia but the club will be careful not to rush him back, coach Luis Enrique said on Saturday.
Iniesta, who has been out of action since sustaining the injury in the La Liga 'Clasico' at Real Madrid at the end of October, was "in good shape", Luis Enrique told a news conference.
However, he cautioned that it was important to be "careful" with the Spain playmaker, suggesting Iniesta is unlikely to be included in the starting lineup at Valencia's Mestalla stadium.
"He has clearly improved and he has been back in training with his team mates the past few days," Luis Enrique said.
"I always miss a player who is injured and if it is Iniesta much more so," added the former Barca and Spain midfielder.
With 12 matches played, second-placed Barca are two points behind leaders Real, who will set a club record of 16 consecutive victories in all competitions if they win at Malaga later on Saturday.
Champions Atletico Madrid, two points behind Barca in third and two ahead of fourth-placed Valencia, host Deportivo La Coruna on Sunday.
Luis Enrique said the decision to operate on centre back Thomas Vermaelen to correct a lingering thigh injury was unlikely to prompt the club to buy a replacement for the Belgium international in the January transfer window.
Vermaelen, who sustained the injury playing against Russia at the World Cup in June, has yet to make his competitive debut after joining from Arsenal and his signing has become something of an embarrassment for the Barca board.
He is expected to be out for four to five months.
"Injuries are normal in professional football because it is a physical contact sport and very hard," Luis Enrique said.
"We believe the operation is the best solution so he can recover and help us.
"We have no doubt he will give us a lot. There is no intention of reinforcing that position."