Sergi Roberto may return to the Barcelona line-up for the trip to Valencia on Saturday (22 October) after having returned to Luis Enrique's 18 man squad along Aleix Vidal, Denis Suarez and youngster Carles Aleña.
However, the Spanish boss still faces a headache over his backline against Los Che as Gerard Pique and Jordi Alba are ruled out after being forced off during the 4-0 victory over Manchester City. Furthermore, Arda Turan and Rafinha Alcantara will also miss as part of the boss' rotation policy.
The Barcelona right-back, Pique and Jordi Alba are three key members of the Catalans' defence when they are fit, with versatile Mascherano himself battling for the other vacant position with summer signing Samuel Umtiti. However, Sergi Roberto missed the last two games against Deportivo and City after the versatile right-back suffered an injury on international duty with Spain.
Vidal is his natural cover since the summer departure of Dani Alves but the former Sevilla star looked out of the manager's plans, having been left out of the squad in the previous last eight games. The boss eventually opted to find different ways to cover Sergi Roberto's absences in recent games to avoid using Vidal, playing with a 3-4-3 formation in the 4-0 win over Deportivo before opting to use Mascherano at right-back against City.
However, the Barcelona boss has named both Sergi Roberto and Vidal in the squad for the trip to Valencia despite being uncertain whether the former will be fully fit to start.
"Sergi Roberto is fine, I'm not sure if he is ready to play or make the squad. Mascherano is a good option (for the right-back), he played a good match against City," the Barcelona boss said in the press conference only before releasing a final list which also included two new faces in Denis Suarez and 18-year-old Carles Aleña.
The Barcelona boss also has a decision to make in the heart of the defence and at left-back after on Thursday the club confirmed that Pique and Alba are set to be on the sidelines for around three and two weeks respectively. Umtiti and Jeremy Mathieu formed the centre-back partnership against City but Mascherano could play there should either Sergi Roberto or Vidal start on the right flank. Meanwhile, Digne is expected to replace Alba as he already did against City following the Spaniard injury earlier in the game.
Yet, he suggests that some players from the second team like Aleña may also be handed an opportunity to impress in the coming games. "When there are injuries on one line we can fill in with players from the reserves, which is always an option and one that strengthens us," he said.
Luis Enrique is expected to have less worries in his attack as the MSN formed by Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar are all fit to start. Furthermore, the Brazilian will have a good reason to prove himself against Valencia in order to celebrate his renewal at the Nou Camp, having put pen to paper to a new deal until 2021 on Friday.
The Barcelona boss expressed his delight over the agreement as he rates the Brazilian as one of the best around. "Neymar Jr's contract extension is great news, it signifies his development with Barça and the level of performances that make him one of the best players in the world," Luis Enrique said. "He is comfortable at the club, with his teammates, winning titles, and the feeling is mutual."