Barcelona manager Luis Enrique is facing an injury crisis in his midfield ahead of the Copa del Rey game against Athletic Club Bilbao on Wednesday night (27 January), with captain Andres Iniesta the latest victim of the fever outbreak that has hit his dressing room. The club revealed earlier in the week that both Sergio Busquets and Arda Turan had missed training due to the illness, with the club facing both the Basque side and a crucial La Liga duel with Atletico Madrid in the space of four days.
Barca confirmed all three players had missed Tuesday's training session, and refused to set a timescale for their return to the first-team. Reports in Spain indicate all are major doubts for the second leg of the cup tie, in which the Catalan outfit have a slight advantage after they secured a 2-1 victory at San Mames last week.
The news is a massive blow for Luis Enrique, with the trio excelling in midfield during the 2-1 victory against Malaga at the weekend. Busquets played behind Turan and the captain in a 4-3-3 formation.
Ivan Rakitic and the versatile Sergi Roberto may step in to cope with the absences of Iniesta and Turan after the Barcelona duo were rested against Malaga, while Luis Enrique may opt to play Javier Mascherano in his original position to fill Busque's holding role gap.
This way Gerard Pique, who missed the last game with a suspension, will recover his position at the centre of the defence alongside either Jeremy Mathieu, Thomas Vermaelen or Marc Bartra. Jordi Alba and long-term absentee Rafinha Alcantara are also expected to miss the game, although the former could return for the Atletico Madrid game.
There was good news for the Barcelona manager though, as he looks ready to have his MSN attack of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar available again, with Neymar returning to training sessions following a minor knock in his hamstring.