Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde has claimed that Gerard Pique could still feature in the second leg of the Copa del Rey semi-final against Valencia on Thursday (8 February) despite admitting that the Spanish centre-back ended the weekend's 1-1 draw against Espanyol with a knee problem.
Pique scored Barcelona's equaliser in the 82nd minute of the derby to rescue a point for his side but only moments later he set alarm bells ringing among the fans after receiving a heavy tackle from Gerard Moreno.
Earlier on Monday morning (5 February) AS reported that Barcelona feared the Spain international could be on the sidelines for around one month due to the knee injury.
The initial news came as a major blow for Valverde's side ahead of a busy run of fixtures which will include the Copa del Rey decider against Valencia and the first leg of the Champions League last 16 clash at Chelsea.
On Monday evening Pique's grandfather Amador Bernabeu said that a scan had revealed that the injury was not as bad as first feared and his grandson could be back in between eight and 10 days.
"It really was really a scare during the game," Bernabeu told Spanish Radio show El Transistor.
"After everything (the scans) they did to him this morning and following a visit to the doctors they have said that it is not as bad as first feared. I think that in eight or ten days he will be back."
Bernabeu's optimism was shared by Valverde, who claimed that Pique could even play against Valencia on Thursday if he passes a fitness test during Wednesday's workout.
"It is true that Pique ended the game [against Espanyol] with some niggles, but as we think that he is not totally ruled out for the game [against Valencia], we are waiting for a test to confirm whether he can or not, he will try today in training and we will see," Valverde said in a press conference before the Wednesday's training session.
Pique's potential unavailability to face Valencia would leave Valverde with a major headache to partner Samuel Umtiti in the heart of his back-line.
Yet, the manager confirmed that the game will still come too early for Thomas Vermaelen with the former Arsenal centre-back picking up a hamstring injury in the 5-0 win over Real Betis on 21 January.
Barcelona signed Yerry Mina to replace Javier Mascherano during the recent January transfer window but the Colombian international is yet to make his debut with the Spaniards and is uncertain whether Valverde will give him a chance to prove himself in such a decisive game.
Valverde said that Mina is ready to play but the Barcelona boss suggested that midfielder Sergio Busquets or left-back Lucas Digne could also cover Pique in case the Spaniard doesn't arrive in time to face Los Che.
"Mina has been regularly in our call-ups and therefore he is prepared to play, he has to be ready to plays and we'll see if that happens tomorrrow," Valverde added.
"You want me to tell you who is going to play [if Pique is not available]? It's good that we have players who can play in different. We have several possibilities, Vermaelen is still out but we have Mina. We also have other possibilities like Busquets, Digne. We well see. We are definitely going to use someone."
Ousmane Dembele has been on the sidelines since suffering a hamstring injury during the victory over Real Sociedad on 14 January and will definitely miss for the Copa del Rey trip to Mestalla.
Yet, the Frenchman returned to training last week and Valverde expects to have him available soon.
"He is well, he's training with the team and we think that he could be back either this week or next week", Valverde said when asked about the France winger.