Gerard pique
Gerard Pique scored Barcelona's equaliser during the weekend's 1-1 draw at Espanyol.

Gerard Pique will be available to help Barcelona in their efforts to book a place in the Copa del Rey final after being included in Ernesto Valverde's 18-man squad for the second leg of the semi-final tie against Valencia on Thursday night (8 February).

The La Liga giants hold a 1-0 advantage from the first leg played at the Nou Camp but Pique's availability for the trip to Mestalla had been under question in after it emerged that the Spain international ended Sunday's 1-1 draw against Espanyol with a knee problem.

The 31-year-old defender received a heavy kick from Gerard Moreno in the final stages of the derby just moments after netting a 82<sup>nd minute equaliser to rescue a point for Barcelona.

Earlier on Monday morning AS reported that the initial scans suggested that Pique could be on the sidelines for up to a month and in turn miss the Copa del Rey decider against Valencia as well as the long-awaited Champions League first leg last 16 trip to Chelsea on 20 February.

But later it emerged that a second scan had revealed that the injury was not as bad as first feared and that Pique could be back in a matter of days.

On Wednesday (7 February) Valverde confirmed the positive news for the Barcelona fans, claiming that Pique could even play against Valencia if the defender passed a fitness test during the final training session.

And it looks like the test was successful with the Barcelona boss having included him in the travelling squad to Valencia alongside Lionel Messi and co.

Meanwhile, Denis Suarez and Lucas Digne have been left out due to technical reasons while Barcelona confirmed on their official website that the trip to Mestalla will still come too early for both Ousmane Dembélé and Thomas Vermaelen.

"Ernesto Valverde has named his squad for the second leg of the Copa del Rey semi-final against Valencia (Thursday at 9.30pm CET), for which he is going to have to make do without the injured Ousmane Dembélé and Thomas Vermaelen," the club said.

"The Barça boss also decided to leave out Denis Suárez and Lucas Digne from the team that will be defending the 1-0 lead from the Camp Nou."

There have been suggestions in recent days that Yerry Mina could make his Barcelona debut at Mestalla but with Pique available it looks like the Colombia international will have to wait for his chance on the substitutes' bench.

Valverde is thus expected to name his strongest line-up with Barcelona hoping to reach the Copa del Rey final for the fifth successive year, having won the title in the last three campaigns under Luis Enrique.

Key players like Lionel Messi, Jordi Alba, Ivan Rakitic and Sergi Roberto are expected to return to the line-up after being rested during the weekend's 1-1 draw against Espanyol.

Barcelona have a 1-0 advantage thanks to Luis Suarez's header in the first leg but Valverde believes that his side will need to score at least one more goal at Mestalla to book a place in the final.

"Taking into account the offensive potential that Valencia have and playing in Mestalla, I have the feeling that to get through we will have to score," Valverde said in the press conference ahead of the game.

"The fact that it is a semi-final means there will be motivation from the start. Each team will be loyal to their style and they are a team who are difficult to break down and quick on the counterattack."