Lionel Messi and Samuel Umtiti returned to training sessions at Barcelona on Wednesday (12 October) following spells on the sidelines. However, the club confirmed the duo are yet to receive medical clearance for selection, ahead of a busy week that sees the Catalans host Deportivo la Coruna on Saturday before a crunch match with Manchester City four days later.
Earlier in the week Ivan Rakitic made his comeback from an Achilles' tendon injury, in a much-needed injury boost for manager Luis Enrique. However Jordi Alba, Sergi Roberto and Jasper Cillessen remain in the treatment room following knocks sustained on international duty, with the Dutch keeper expected to be out for the remainder of the month.
Messi, 29, was ruled out for around three weeks after sustaining an injury in his right abductor during the draw against Atletico Madrid on 21 September. Umtiti picked up an internal ligament strain to his left knee in preparation for the same game.
Reports in Spain this week have claimed the duo will see some pitch time against Deportivo in order to gain match fitness for the crucial encounter with Manchester City four days later.
It now looks as though the pair are close to that return, joining the full Barcelona workout with the rest of their teammates on Wednesday.
"The number of players at first-team training sessions is growing day by day as internationals continue to return from World Cup qualifying duty. But there was an added bonus at the Ciutat Esportiva today as both Leo Messi and Samuel Umtiti, despite neither yet being declared fit for selection as they battle to recover from injury, were able to join the rest of the team for the workout on the Tito Vilanova field," Barcelona confirmed. Luis Enrique also welcome the return of internationals Andre Gomes and Lucas Digne.
"Spain's Andrés Iniesta, Gerard Piqué and Sergio Busquets were back on club duty after returning from Albania, as was Denis Suárez, who helped the U21 team to victory over Estonia," they added. "André Gomes was also back from Portugal's trip to the Faroe Islands, and there was also a welcome home for Lucas Digne, who was on the bench for France's impressive win in the Netherlands."