Barcelona star Neymar has handed Luis Enrique a fitness boost ahead of the weekend derby with Espanyol after having been included in Luis Enrique's 23-man squad for a friendly against Al-Ahli on Tuesday (13 December). Second-team players Carles Aleña and Borja Lopez will also make the trip to Qatar but Jeremy Mathieu remains on the sidelines.
The Catalans face the club from Saudi Arabia in Doha on Tuesday before a Catalan derby with Espanyol on Sunday (18 December) at the Nou Camp.
Neymar has missed the last two victories, over Borussia Mönchengladbach and Osasuna, as he was suspended in both the Champions League and La Liga. Yet, the Brazilian international has also been struggling with some fitness issues in recent days after ending the recent El Clasico against Real Madrid with fatigue.
Barcelona last week made an official statement to rule out a major injury, but added that his return to normal training will depend on the evolution of the issue.
"The FC Barcelona medical services conducted tests on striker Neymar this Monday morning and were able to confirm that the trouble he is feeling is due to muscle fatigue in the groin area. They also determined that there is no sign of any injury. It means that the Brazilian will be doing special physiotherapy for the next few days and his return to normal training will depend on how matters progress," the club confirmed.
His availability for the Catalan derby against Espanyol was thus under some scrutiny. However, it looks that the Brazilian will arrive on time for the derby after having been included in the travelling squad to Qatar alongside the rest of the first-team players available.
Mathieu, who recently suffered a setback in his recovery from a calf injury, is the only major absentee to face Al-Ahli and is also expected to continue on the sidelines for the weekend clash with Espanyol. Meanwhile, young duo Aleña and Lopez has been named by Luis Enrique to complete his 23-man squad.
"The team will set off from Barcelona on Monday and the boss has opted for 21 first team players plus two from Barça B: Carles Aleñá y Borja López. Jérémy Mathieu is the only first teamer who will not travel due to injury," the club confirmed.
Barcelona's 23-man squad to face Al-Ahli:
Ter Stegen, Cillessen, Masip, Piqué, Rakitic, Busquets, Denis Suárez, Arda, Iniesta, Luis Suárez, Messi, Neymar Jr, Rafinha, Mascherano, Paco Alcácer, Jordi Alba, Digne, Sergi Roberto, André Gomes, Aleix Vidal, Umtiti, Aleñá and Borja López.