Alves set to return as Luis Enrique calls on youth

Alves suffered a groin strain in their opening La Liga match of the season against Athletic Bilbao and has been joined in the treatment room by Claudio Bravo, Thomas Vermaelen, Douglas and Rafinha.

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“He (Alves) seems to be fine and we will wait to see what the situation is tomorrow,” Luis Enrique told a news conference.

“Alves is the good news of the week, that he can return, and also Douglas.”

Rafinha suffered cruciate ligament damage in Barca’s Champions League clash with AS Roma on Wednesday and could miss the rest of the campaign.

Barca were already short on reinforcements due to a FIFA ban on transfers for two windows having been found guilty of signing underage players.

This has led the Catalan club to rely more on youth players at the start of the campaign.

Youth product Sergi Roberto has had an extended run in the team while the door has also opened for Gerard Gumbau who the coach holds in high regard.

“The situation for Rafinha is very sad but the team has to overcome negative situations as best it can and we will look to do it with players from the youth. Our plans and objectives remain the same,” said Luis Enrique.

“I have always found a good attitude from the youth players here but last season their performances were a long way off what I was hoping for.

“Now the situation is different and we need their help as we have no other option. We are going to use Gumbau because I think that he has a lot of potential.”

Last season’s treble winners, Barca have won their three opening league matches of a demanding start to the campaign and also played in both the domestic and European Super Cups.

“It has been tough and a lot more so than last year. We began with three games inside only a few days. However, I would rather be in this situation than not,” added Luis Enrique.

(Editing by Toby Davis)