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Will Frenkie de Jong, Pedri and Ousmane Dembélé return for Barcelona against Atlético Madrid?

Xavi Hernández will be bolstered by the returns of two key players as the LaLiga leaders face Diego Simeone’s in-form team.

Xavi Hernández will be bolstered by the returns of two key players as the LaLiga leaders face Diego Simeone’s in-form team.
Alejandro GarcíaEFE

As previously revealed by AS, today (Friday) was to be crucial regarding the possible returns to fitness of key Barcelona men Frenkie de Jong, Pedri and Ousmane Dembélé. The trio took part in full training with the rest of the roster and also played in a practice match. Although the club’s medical staff were pleased with how all three came through the session, it has been decided, according to Catalan newspaper Mundo Deportivo, that Dembélé isn’t quite ready to return to first-team action and will be given an extra week to continue his recovery.

Pedri return to be carefully managed

Barça boss Xavi Hernández will, though, be boosted by the returns of de Jong and Pedri, two of this season’s top performers, for the home LaLiga clash against in-form Atlético Madrid on Sunday. There even appears to be a good chance of both being thrown straight back into the starting eleven, although the Spanish international isn’t expected to play the full 90 minutes after a lengthy absence and could sit out the final 20. The Dutchman, on the other hand, has been pencilled in to play the whole match, provided he doesn’t suffer any setbacks.

Barça midfield overhaul incoming

Xavi could therefore revert to playing with a midfield four, which would see Sergio Busquets anchoring, de Jong and Pedri ahead of him on either side and Gavi playing as a false winger. Everything points to Franck Kessié being the other man to drop out of the side in addition to the injured Sergi Roberto.

When will Dembélé be back?

We shouldn’t have to wait too much longer to see Dembélé’s return to action, although Barça’s medical staff has preferred to err on the side of caution with the Frenchman because of his history of muscular injuries and dynamic style of play. If the winger isn’t involved in the midweek clash away to Rayo Vallecano, he is likely to play against Real Betis on Saturday.

Defender Andreas Christensen could also be back in the fold next week after a short absence, although Roberto isn’t expected to play again until next season because of a thigh problem.