Neymar, Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez
Neymar, Messi and Suarez return to the Barcelona squad ahead of the trip to Athletic Club. Getty Images


  • Jeremy Mathieu has received medical clearance but is out of the 18-man squad.
  • Denis Suarez and Aleix Vidal will miss the game due to technical reasons.
  • Jasper Cillessen is out injured.

Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar are ready to return to action for Barcelona in the first leg of the Copa del Rey last 16 match against Athletic Club Bilbao on Thursday (5 January). Jasper Cillessen, Denis Suarez, Aleix Vidal and Jeremy Mathieu have all been left out of Luis Enrique's 18-man travelling squad, but the latter has been given medical clearance following two months on the sidelines.

The Catalans visit Mames for the cup game ahead of a crunch La Liga trip to Villarreal on Sunday.

Messi, Suarez and Neymar missed the final game of 2016, where Barcelona destroyed third-tier Hercules 7-0 in the cup's previous round, after boss Luis Enrique gave his MSN trident permission to return to their homelands over Christmas.

The South American trio returned from their holidays on Monday and could be ready to return to the starting XI against Athletic, having completed the last three training sessions with the rest of their teammates.

Barcelona also gave fans a series of welcome injury updates, with Cillessen the only player remaining on the injury table. Luis Enrique now has to make a decision over whether to field third-choice goalie Jordi Masip or have Marc-Andre ter Stegen pull additional duty in the cup.

The Catalan giants also revealed Mathieu is once again available, but Luis Enrique has decided to leave him out his 18-man squad to face Athletic, along with the out-of-favour Aleix Vidal and Denis Suarez.

"Luis Enrique will have to do without the injured Jasper Cillessen, who came back from the winter break with an injury to his soleus in his left leg. The coach has decided to leave Denis, Aleix Vidal and Mathieu out of the matchday squad. The French centre-back has been cleared to return to competitive action by the club's doctors following two months out," Barcelona confirmed in the club website.

The Frenchman has seen no pitch time since the 4-0 win over Manchester City on 19 October, and will need to regain match fitness ahead of a heavy second part of the season.