Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde has been handed a double injury blow ahead of the trip to Athletic Club Bilbao on Saturday (28 October) with Andres Iniesta and Thomas Vermalen failing to make his 20-man squad due to different fitness issues, while Javier Mascherano has been included in the travelling party despite suffering from illness.

Furthermore, the visit to San Mames will also come too early for Arda Turan and Aleix Vidal as the duo remain on the sidelines alongside long-term injury duo Rafinha Alcantara and Ousmane Dembélé.

Valverde, however, will be able to utilise Jordi Alba with the Spanish international left-back having missed the last three games due to a thigh injury sustained during the preparation for the Champions League clash with Olympiacos on 18 October. The former Athletic boss has also seen fit to include Barca B stars Oriol Busquets and David Costas in his 20-man squad.

Meanwhile, Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, Sergio Busquets, Marc-Andre ter Stegen, Samuel Umtiti and Paulinho are also back in Valverde's squad to face Athletic after the six players were rested during Tuesday's 3-0 victory at Murcia in the first leg of the Copa del Rey last-32.

Mascherano and Vermaelen formed the heart of the back-line in the Copa del Rey encounter as Valverde made wholesale changes to his line-up against the Second Division B side.

The two defenders completed the full 90 minutes but Vermaelen will miss the clash with Athletic after being unable to train on Friday due to a hip injury, while Mascherano has been included in the travelling contingent despite coming down with a fever and is likely to miss the clash against José Ángel Ziganda's side.

This way Gerard Pique and Umtiti are expected to recover their places in the heart of the back-line with Alba also in line to partner them on the left side.

Meanwhile, Barcelona captain Iniesta was rested against Murcia but will also missed the trip to Bilbao due to a muscle injury.

The Blaugrana released a statement regarding the team news on their official website: "The Barça coach will not be able to count on the injured Dembélé, Rafinha, Arda and Aleix Vidal. In addition, they are without Vermaelen - discomfort in the right hip - and Andres Iniesta, with an overload in the inner rectus of the left thigh. The evolution of both players will mark their availability.

"On the other hand, Jordi Alba has received medical discharge and will be part of the 20 players who will travel to Bilbao where two players of Barça B stand out: Ter Stegen, Cillessen, Semedo, Piqué, Rakitic, Sergio, Denis Suárez, Suárez, Messi, Mascherano (has not trained this Friday by a feverish process caused by an infection), Paulinho, Deulofeu, Paco Alcácer, Jordi Alba, Digne, S. Roberto, André Gomes, Umtiti, O. Busquets (30) and David Costas (39 )."