Madrid (AFP) – Lionel Messi will know how to manage his own fitness through La Liga’s rapid end to the season but has no injury problems ahead of Barcelona’s return against Real Mallorca on Saturday, says coach Quique Setien.
Messi missed three sessions last week with some discomfort in his thigh but has been back in full training since Monday. “He is perfectly fine, he has trained with the rest of his teammates and he feels good. I don’t see any problem,” said Setien in a press conference on Friday.
Barcelona resume away at Mallorca after the three-month suspension due to the coronavirus pandemic. La Liga restarted on Thursday and will finish on July 19, with each team playing their remaining 11 matches over just 39 days.
An intense period of fixtures will stretch players like Messi, who will be crucial to Barca’s title bid. They sit two points ahead of Real Madrid at the top of the table.
Asked if Messi could play all 11 games, Setien said: “We will have to play it by ear, fortunately Messi and a lot of the players with experience know how to manage themselves. If any risk arises, he will be the first one to say that he needs a rest.”
Setien also said Luis Suarez is available after he recovered from a knee injury but believes he could need time to find full fitness. “He is likely to play but it may not be for the whole game,” said Setien.
“It would be taking a risk that we are probably not going to take. He is in good condition and getting better every day but after five months it’s true that it will be good for him to play and he will need some games to be the best Luis Suarez.”
Defender Nelson Semedo is available despite breaking La Liga protocol and having to train alone on Thursday. Semedo had reportedly attended a gathering of more than 20 people earlier in the week.
“Whether he plays or not will not be because of this careless or unfortunate thing he did,” said Setien. “He made a mistake and he’s apologised to everyone.” Samuel Umtiti is out with a calf injury.
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