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Ousmane Dembélé

Dembele back in training but Barca being careful, says Valverde

7:16 PM IST 03/02/18
Ousmane Dembele Barcelona
The 20-year-old has been limited to just seven appearances for Ernesto Valverde's side and the club will not rush him back as he recovers from injury

Ousmane Dembele returned to training with Barcelona on Saturday as he continues his recovery from injury.

The 20-year-old was ruled out for up to a month when he suffered a hamstring injury in mid-January, similar to the one that saw him sidelined for four months shortly after his €105 million summer move from Borussia Dortmund.

Dembele participated in training with his team-mates ahead of Sunday's derby against Espanyol, but he will not be available for the Liga clash as he soon returned to individual work.

Barca coach Ernesto Valverde expects the winger to return to full training in the next week, but stressed the club will be patient with him.

"He's not ready to play right now," he said at a press conference ahead of Sunday's game.

"We will try to take good care of him as we did when he recovered from the previous injury. We tried to bring him back slowly then, but he felt his injury again.

"Today he took part in part of the session with the team, next week he will be entering the group again and we'll see when he is ready to help us."

Dembele has been limited to just seven appearances in all competitions for the Catalan side this season, starting only two games in La Liga.

Much of the build-up to the derby clash has centred around comments made by Gerard Pique after their Copa del Rey tie in January.

The defender referred to Barca's neighbours as "Espanyol de Cornella", implying they should not be considered a Barcelona club following their move to nearby Cornella de Llobregat, but that will not come into Valverde's reckoning when picking the team.

"I'm not thinking of anything other than putting out the best team to win tomorrow [Sunday]," Valverde said.

"Complaints are part of the rivalry. We are rivals; the coaches and the players, and also the team-mates. On the field each one is going to give his own. There is tension in the matches, the rivalry, but there is not much more to it than that – it is a football match.

"I do not care [about a hostile atmosphere]. It's a lot of noise, but it's normal."

Valverde also addressed suggestions that Yerry Mina has not impressed in training, dismissing those reports by insisting the Colombian is available to play.

"Mina could play, he's called into the squad," Valverde added.

"I have to decide between one player and another. So far I've decided to leave [Samuel] Umtiti and Pique [in the team]. He [Mina] has already passed his adaptation. I've just preferred other players until now."