Barcelona midfielder Rafinha Alcantara is set to miss the first leg of the Copa del Rey quarter final at Real Sociedad on Thursday (19 January) due to a hamstring injury. The Catalan club have confirmed the blow for manager Luis Enrique while leaving in doubt whether the Brazilian international will be ready to return to action for the Sunday's La Liga trip to Eibar.
Rafinha missed much of the last campaign after suffering a cruciate ligament injury in September 2015. However, the 23-year-old versatile midfielder has managed to put that serious blow behind him to enjoy an impressive start to the new season, scoring six goals and providing four assists in 18 appearances for the first team.
The Brazilian has started in the last two wins over Athletic Club Bilbao and Las Palmas despite the huge competition for places in the Barcelona's trident midfield, with Enrique having also captain Andres Iniesta, Andre Gomes, Ivan Rakitic and Denis Suarez to cover two places alongside Sergio Busquets.
Rafinha completed the 90 minutes in the 5-0 win over Las Palmas on Saturday, setting up Luis Suarez's second goal while also playing a big part in the 2-0 netted by Lionel Messi.
However, Barcelona have now revealed that Rafinha will not be able to make a third consecutive starting appearance in the Copa del Rey trip to Real Sociedad due to a hamstring injury.
"FC Barcelona's Rafinha Alcantara has pulled a hamstring muscle and will have to sit out this Thursday's Copa del Rey first leg away to Real Sociedad," the club have confirmed through an official statement. "The club doctors will need to monitor the Brazilian's progress before determining his availability for other matches."
Enrique may therefore recall Iniesta to the line-up to cover Rafinha's absence after the captain was rested against Las Palmas. Meanwhile, Gomes, who started on the weekend, may also leave the other place in the midfield to either Rakitic or Denis Suarez as the Barcelona boss is expected to continue his rotation policy ahead of the following La Liga trip to Eibar.