Barcelona manager Luis Enrique has claimed that he is yet to decide whether to play Lionel Messi in the Copa del Rey quarter final first leg clash with Athletic Bilbao on Wednesday night (20 January). The boss is also waiting for a response to the appeal over Luis Suarez's ban to know if the former Liverpool striker is available.
Messi missed Tuesday's training session following a knock suffered during their 6-0 La Liga victory on the weekend, also against Athletic Bilbao. Messi was replaced by Arda Turan at half-time in the Sunday's 6-0 win over the Basque side after he had scored the opener. The club confirmed on Monday that the injury was not as serious as first though but left doubt on whether the five time Ballon D'or winnoer will be available for the midweek trip to San Mames.
"Medical tests on striker Lionel Messi this morning have revealed great news. It turns out that the Argentine has not got a hamstring injury and has just taken a bit of a knock. It is uncertain whether or not he will be available for future matches, but there is nothing major to worry about," the club confirmed.
Reports in Spain have since claimed that Luis Enrique will not risk the player and that Messi will miss the Copa del Rey game. He is also a major doubt for the following La Liga encounter against Malaga on Saturday.
Those reports seemed confirmed earlier on Tuesday when Messi missed the training session. Speaking in the press conference ahead of the game, Luis Enrique said "Messi is good, he does not have any injuries, just a little discomfort. We'll see about tomorrow."
"I will name the squad [on Wednesday]. I never like to risk with a player. It may be different in a final but this is not the case now because Messi is not injured. It will depend on how he feels to decide whether to play him or not."
Suarez may also miss the game due to suspension after he was banned for two cup games by the Spanish football federation for his behaviour in the previous round against Espanyol. Enrique refused to rule out the Uruguay international completely as Barcelona are yet to receive a response on their appeal.
"The court will say whether he can play or not and if he can't he'll serve the second game of his suspension. We aren't asking for anything out of the ordinary".
Should the two South American stars miss the game, Enrique will trust in the sensational form of Neymar to secure a good result at San Mames, with the quarter final second leg to be played at the Camp Nou on 27 January.
"Neymar is in even better form than he was last year, irrespective of whether or not Messi plays, and he was already in great form last year," said Enrique. "These types of players, who appear to have magic in their boots when they run at players, tend to bring this sort of reaction from the opposition. I'm sure he gets kicked all over the park when he plays for Brazil. We're thrilled for him to continue playing as he is".