At a press conference ahead of Barcelona’s match against Athletic Bilbao on Sunday, manager Luis Enrique revealed that three key players, Lionel Messi, Gerard Pique and Andres Iniesta, are positioned to make their comeback from recent injuries.
Messi was forced to withdraw from an Argentina national team game, nursing a hip injury, and Pique was inflicted with a knock of the same body part (hip), while Iniesta’s left knee kept him sidelined when Barcelona defeated Villarreal 1-0 prior to the international break. Neymar is also in good condition, according to the head coach.
“[Messi] is ready to play,” Enrique said. “He did some individual work, and more with the group. There are some [other] players who have still not got the medical all-clear, but the majority of the players are ready to play….Neymar is in optimal condition, like almost all the players.”
It’s not only these players that could appear on the pitch after injury absences. Summer transfer window acquisitions, goalkeeper Marc Andre Ter-Stegen and defender Thomas Vermaelen, could end up notching their Barca debuts.
“I have decided who will play in goal, but I will speak first with them,” Enrique said of the Ter-Stegen possible start in net.
“Vermaelen is training at the same rhythm as his teammates, and will bring us many things — bringing the ball out from the back, power in the air. He is a very interesting centre-half.”