Barcelona issue injury update ahead of Manchester United Champions League clash
Dembele is in the travelling squad and will train with his Barca teammates at Old Trafford on Tuesday night.
But the 21-year-old hasn’t featured for the La Liga leaders since suffering a hamstring injury in the last-16 second leg win over Lyon, when he came on at the Nou Camp with 20 minutes to go and scored Barcelona‘s fifth goal.
Ernesto Valverde will give Dembele every opportunity to prove his fitness for the Old Trafford clash, but would rather keep the France winger in reserve for the Nou Camp return in six days if he isn’t fit enough to feature on Wednesday.
“We’ll see how he is in this evening’s training session to see if he can be fit or not,” Valverde said.
“It’s not the same situation against Lyon, it’s not the second leg, we have to be aware in the last game we perhaps forced it a little and we’re not going to run that risk this time in case it reoccurs.”
United have injury concerns of their own ahead of the first leg, with Alexis Sanchez and Eric Bailly ruled out, with Ander Herrera, Nemanja Matic and Marcus Rashford have all been carrying knocks.
But Valverde played down United’s injury issues and pointed to the way Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side coped with an even tougher injury crisis to knock Paris Saint-Germain out in the last round.
“Taking into account the problems they had in Paris and looking at the result, I don’t think it’s a problem,” he said.
“When you get to this stage of a knockout I think wanting to go through pushes you on much more beyond the problems you may have. A clear example of that is what United did in Paris.”
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“All big teams go through periods, fans know this, players understand this, whatever player signs for United they understand what team they’re going to and what level they have to give,” he said.
“It’s true that certain periods we want to continue winning, but that doesn’t happen forever. United perhaps in the last few years haven’t been getting to Champions League finals in the way they were in the past but this year it’s an example of a team that’s been in a difficult situation and now they’re looking further up the table.”