Vermaelen could make his first La Liga appearance at Mestalla. Getty


  • Gerard Pique will be unavailable to face La Liga's second-placed due to suspension.
  • Javier Mascherano, Arda Turan, Ousmane Dembele and Rafinha Alcantara remain on the sidelines.

Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde has been forced to promote five players to first team training session on Friday (24 November) to address the number of absentees in his ranks ahead of the crucial trip to Valencia.

Gerard Pique will be unavailable to face La Liga's second-placed side due to suspension while Javier Mascherano, Arda Turan and long-term injury duo Ousmane Dembele and Rafinha Alcantara remain on the sidelines due to varying injuries.

Carles Aleñá, Jose Arnaiz, Oriol Busquets, David Costas and Marc Cucurella therefore trained with the first-team as the Catalans begun preparations for the trip to Mestalla following their goalless draw at Juventus in the Champions League.

Valverde was still handed a double boost during the workout with Sergi Roberto and Andres Gomes re-joining the group following more than three weeks on the sidelines.

Pique saw his fifth yellow card of the season during the weekends 3-0 win at Leganes for a slight pull on Watford loanee Nordin Amrabat.

Barcelona appealed with hopes the key centre-back could be available to lead the back-line at Mestalla.

However, the centre-back will finally miss the encounter with Marcelino Garcia Toral's side after the Spanish football federation committee rejected the appeal.

The Spain international's absence at Valencia is a big blow for Valverde with the manager only having only two other centre-backs available to form the heart of his back-line against Valencia.

Javier Mascherano will also miss the game due to a hamstring injury sustained while on international duty with Argentina during the recent break.

Thirty-two-year-old Thomas Vermaelen is expected to partner Samuel Umtiti at Mestalla even though the Belgium international has not played a La Liga game since returning in the summer from an unsuccessful loan spell at AS Roma, with his only appearance coming during the Copa del Rey victory over Murcia.

Barcelona B centre-back Costas could also have a chance to make the squad against Valencia after the Celta Vigo loanee was promoted to the first-team training session on Friday.

Meanwhile, Sergi Roberto and Gomes also trained with the rest of their available teammates but it is still uncertain whether the two versatile midfielders will be 100% fit to face Valencia.

Earlier this week the Spaniard suggested that the trip to Mestalla will still come too early for him, with both players having been been out of action since suffering respective hamstring injuries in the Champions League draw at Olympiakos on 31 October.

"All the available first team players were involved in the session with Aleñá, Arnaiz, Oriol Busquets, David Costas and Cucurella from the B squad also taking part," Barcelona confirmed following the Friday's workout.

"Andre Gomes and Sergi Roberto also trained with their team mates for the first time during their recoveries from their respective injuries. Arda Turan was diagnosed with a dental abscess and did not take part in the session whilst the Spanish Anti-Doping Agency paid a visit and took samples from Ter Stegen, Digne, Denis Suárez, André Gomes, Cillessen and Aleix Vidal."

Valverde's side could take a big step towards the La Liga title by beating Valencia on Sunday [26 November], being already four points ahead of Los Che and 10 clear of Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid after 12 games.