Neymar suspension gives Barca's Pedro chance to shine
07 March 2015, 17:40
Barcelona - Barcelona will have to do without suspended striker Neymar for Sunday's La Liga clash with Rayo Vallecano, but the Brazilian's absence could be an ideal opportunity for Pedro to show his value to coach Luis Enrique.
The Tenerife-born youth product has struggled to realise his enormous early potential after bursting onto the scene under former coach Pep Guardiola.
He famously became the first Barca player to score in all six club competitions as the Catalans hoovered up all available silverware in the 2009 calendar year.
A predatory striker with an innate ability to find the back of the net, it looked as though Pedro was destined to become a stalwart over the following years.
He has struggled, however, to live up to that early promise, while niggling injuries have restricted his appearances and prevented him from asserting himself on a side that has had to rebuild since the departure of Guardiola.
Last season Alexis Sanchez, who joined Arsenal in the summer, was often preferred as the team's third striker alongside Lionel Messi and Neymar, while his opportunities have since been limited by the arrival of Luis Suarez.
Pedro finished the previous campaign with 15 goals from 37 league games, behind Messi and Sanchez in the scoring charts, while so far this season the 27-year-old has only five from 24.
Luis Enrique says that he has full belief in Pedro, who is set to be given his chance after Neymar was ruled out having picked up his fifth yellow card of the season.
"He is a top player with great individual ability to score goals and open up the opposition," Luis Enrique told a news conference about the striker who has been linked with a move away from the club at the end of the season.
"He is also a team player and works hard. He would like to have more chances but he has always helped us when he has played."
Barca continue their pursuit of Real Madrid, who are two points clear at the top of La Liga and are away to Athletic Bilbao on Saturday.
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