Barcelona manager Luis Enrique has confirmed that Lionel Messi and Samuel Umtiti are both ready to return to action in the match against Deportivo La Coruna on Saturday (15 October) following a three-week spell on the sidelines. The boss added that their roles in the game, along with those of their teammates, will not be impacted by the crunch Champions League game with Manchester City four days later.
The Catalans are currently fourth in La Liga, suffering a surprise 4-3 defeat to Celta Vigo before the international break. However, reports in recent days suggested Luis Enrique may rest key players against Deportivo to keep their powder dry for Pep Guardiola's return to the Nou Camp on Wednesday night.
Messi and Umtiti were expected to play minor roles at the weekend so they could be 100% fit for the City encounter.
The Barcelona manager has refused to confirm or deny those plans, but revealed the pair are available for selection having completed three training sessions with the rest of their teammates.
"The great news is that we have recovered two injured players in Messi and Umtiti. They have been training since Wednesday with the group at a high level. When you come back from an injury you need minutes, both in training and in games. From there, tomorrow I will speak with him [Messi] to decide [whether he will play]. but in principle he is available."
Luis Suarez has been tipped for a bench role against the Galicians, with the former Liverpool star only returning from his international commitments on Thursday. This could be a golden opportunity for Paco Alcacer as he seeks his first goal since his summer switch from Valencia.
However, the boss said: "Luis Suarez is available like everyone else and hasn't told me that he is tired. Players who make transoceanic journeys have less days to recover but he is in a condition to play."
One way or another the Barcelona boss declared he will not be thinking about the Champions League when he names his starting XI. He is aware of the importance of securing a victory to reduce the current two-point gap with Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid.
"Manchester City? There is only one game in my mind. The game against Deportivo. We want to recover points and the only way is by winning games. We know how difficult it is to prepare a match in only two days [following the international break] and thinking about another match would not be the best," Luis Enrique concluded.
The boss, meanwhile, failed to address the situations of Jordi Alba, Sergi Roberto and Jasper Cillessen but the Barcelona trio are expected to miss the game after suffering injuries while on international duty.