Ernesto Valverde To Wait Until 11th Hour To Decide on Andres Iniesta’s Fitness for Chelsea Clash

?Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde will wait until the 11th hour before ruling on Andres Iniesta’s participation, or lack of, ahead of his side welcoming Chelsea to the Camp Nou on Wednesday evening. 

The 33-year-old was forced off injured with a hamstring issue during Blaugrana’s 1-0 win over Atletico Madrid last weekend, with Andre Gomes, somewhat surprisingly, taking his place. 

Speculation suggested that the Spain international would not recover in time and was set to miss Barca’s crucial last-16 showdown with Antonio Conte’s Blues in midweek. 

However, while speaking to his pre-match press conference, as quoted by ?Goal, the 54-year-old stated he is not willing to clarify one way or the other just yet. 

“He is training separately at the moment, obviously we don’t want to rush things”, Valverde said“It’s too early to say if he’ll be available for next week. 

“We have players with a similar profile, Denis [Suarez] got injured the other day, but we have [Philippe] Coutinho who can play inside or out, Andre Gomes as well whose characteristics are comparable, he can play in that position, but we’ll see.”

Although Coutinho will be expected to adopt his more favourited left-sided position against Malaga on Saturday, the Brazilian’s ineligibility to feature in this season’s Champions League for the Catalonians following his participation earlier in the term for Liverpool could leave the Barca coaching staff with a significant selection headache, should Iniesta not be available. 

Ousmane Dembele could provide a similar attacking threat to his 25-year-old teammate; however, as shown during Blaugrana’s victory over Atleti, Valverde is not yet ready to place his trust in the youngster. 

But the Spaniard could face even greater concerns before Wednesday, ?with Lionel Messi a late drop out for this weekend’s La Liga showdown for personal reasons. 

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