Both Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez are fit to feature against Sevilla, but Ernesto Valverde will be cautious over their playing time
Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez are fit for Barcelona but Ernesto Valverde’s focus is on getting his star forwards fully up to speed.
Suarez scored both Barca goals in a comeback victory at home to Inter in the Champions League in midweek with Messi, whose season has been plagued by injury, setting up the second at the end of an excellent run.
Barca’s indifferent start to their LaLiga title defence has not been helped by injuries to both forwards, with Valverde’s side five points behind leaders Real Madrid heading into their encounter with Sevilla.
Neither Messi or Suarez will play for Argentina or Uruguay for the upcoming internationals, with Valverde acknowledging it presents him with an opportunity to get the duo back up to their full capacity.
“Of course they are fit again, they showed that [against Inter],” Valverde told a news conference ahead of a meeting with Sevilla at Camp Nou.
“I will decide on Sunday whether I start one or the other or bring them on later. They are two players who have struggled with injuries this season but the more they play the more form they will get.
“We like the players to be picked for international duty because it means they’re not injured, because it means they’re playing at their top level.
“There are not many players for us going this international break – that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
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“It means we will have a more complete squad for training and can work on certain things. But after that fortnight we’ve got important matches in LaLiga and the Champions League and we need to be ready for those.
“We’re doing well. We’ve hit on a good run, now we’re playing a very strong team, the aim is to keep moving forward.”
Barca have been without Jordi Alba since the left-back sustained a hamstring injury in the Champions League draw with Borussia Dortmund on September 17, but Valverde confirmed the Spain international is back in contention.
“Not having a specific left-footed full-back is unnatural,” said Valverde, who has also been shorn of Junior Firpo due to a hamstring problem.
“The players who have had to play there have done well, the players are used to this kind of thing but we’ll see if Jordi can recover.
“We’ll wait but it’s certainly a possibility. He’s not been declared fully fit yet, he did part of training the other day. He certainly felt fine but we’ll wait to see how things go.”
Alba was later included in a 19-man squad by Valverde, with Ansu Fati also returning from injury.