September 13, 2019 / 5:21 PM / 2 days ago

Messi likely to miss Barca's next two fixtures, says Valverde

FILE PHOTO - Soccer Football - Joan Gamper Trophy - Barcelona v Arsenal - Camp Nou, Barcelona, Spain - August 4, 2019 Barcelona's Lionel Messi waves to fans before the match REUTERS/Albert Gea

BARCELONA (Reuters) - Lionel Messi will miss Barcelona’s La Liga showdown with Valencia on Saturday and is also a doubt for Tuesday’s Champions League trip to Dortmund as he has yet to recover from the calf injury he picked up in August, coach Ernesto Valverde said.

It was initially thought the Argentine striker would be sidelined for only a few weeks but he has yet to play any part in this campaign.

In his absence, the league champions have made a lacklustre start to the season, losing their opening game to Athletic Bilbao before taking just four points from fixtures against Real Betis and Osasuna.

They are eighth in the standings, five points behind league leaders Atletico Madrid with three games played.

“At first it looked like a little bit of a hold up in his recovery. His scar opened a bit, and that means we are now taking it easy with him,” Valverde told a news conference.

“He’s on the road to recovery. I don’t want to put any expectation on it, but it’ll be difficult for Tuesday.

“The fact he isn’t playing is important for us. I can’t deny he’s a key man.”

While Valverde will also be without Ousmane Dembele, Luis Suarez has returned to full training and is likely to earn a recall in attack alongside Antoine Griezmann.

Saturday game will be Albert Celades’s first game as Valencia coach following Marcelino’s sacking on Wednesday.

Reporting by Joseph Cassinelli, editing by Pritha Sarkar

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