September 27, 2019 / 2:34 PM / 19 days ago

Barca without Messi, Fati as they look to banish away doubts at Getafe

BARCELONA (Reuters) - Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde says he does not know when Lionel Messi will return to action after another injury setback, as his side travel to Getafe on Saturday in La Liga seeking a first away win in eight matches in all competitions.

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - La Liga Santander - FC Barcelona v Villarreal - Camp Nou, Barcelona, Spain - September 24, 2019 Barcelona's Lionel Messi reacts REUTERS/Albert Gea

Barca’s all-time top scorer has not managed to complete 90 minutes this season due to a series of injuries and had to be taken off at halftime during his side’s 2-1 win at home to Villarreal on Tuesday with a thigh strain.

“I don’t know how long he will be out for, we hope he can return to the team soon,” Valverde told a news conference.

“It’s not serious, it’s a small strain but we’re going to see how he improves next week.”

Messi has been ruled out of the trip at Getafe and will be fighting to be fit in time for Barca’s Champions League game at home to Inter Milan next Wednesday and a difficult league match at home to Sevilla the following Sunday.

“If he returns soon it’s a boost for us and if not then we will be missing a player who is absolutely decisive,” Valverde added.

“But we have the resources to manage without him, it’s a setback, but we need to keep going.”

Barca were dealt another blow ahead of the game as teenage sensation Ansu Fati was also ruled out of the game at Getafe after complaining of discomfort in his right knee.

Fati, 16, has netted in two of his five appearances since breaking into the first team and last month became the club’s youngest ever goalscorer.

Barca have made a slow start to the season due to their dire away form, losing to Athletic Bilbao and Granada while drawing at Osasuna in their three matches away from the Camp Nou, where they have a 100% record.

Valverde said he was not anxious about the team’s record away from home, but challenged his players to pick up all three points at Getafe.

“I don’t think we’re anxious but because everyone keeps speaking about that, it seems as if we need to win away as soon as possible to get rid of this feeling,” he said.

“It’s true that we haven’t won away and we haven’t play well away and the two things are related.

“We need to step things up away from home and we have a good opportunity to do so tomorrow. The fact we are playing Getafe is good for us as they will put us under real pressure at their stadium and will force us to dig deep.”

Reporting by Richard Martin; Editing by Toby Davis and Christian Radnedge

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