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Valvede talks Dembele, Iniesta and Umtiti fitness plus Yerry Mina and Espanyol

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Real Sociedad v FC Barcelona - La Liga Santander Photo by Laurens Lindhout/Soccrates/Getty Images

Ernesto Valverde has been in the hotseat facing questions from the press ahead of tomorrow’s Copa del Rey clash with Espanyol and spoke at length about several players.

The Barcelona boss confirmed Yerry Mina can’t play tomorrow but that Samuel Umtiti is close to a return to action and also discussed Ousmane Dembele’s injury.

Here are the best bits..

Valverde on Dembele

He has a smaller problem, it is not at all comparable to the first injury so let’s not start overinflating things because if we start staying things, he might start believing them. It’s just an added difficulty and it’s something else he needs to overcome and we will give him the support he needs.

Valverde on Umtiti

Tomorrow I think is a little early [to return[ but he is on the road to recovery. I can’t give you an exact date, but soon.

Valverde on Yerry Mina

No he can’t play tomorrow because there is still paperwork to be sorted. The transfer hasn’t been completed yet but yes he’s really settled in. He’s very happy, the players like having him here. I think he’s going to be an important member of the group but it’s competition that is important here. There’s competition for places, we’ll see how much he gets to play. He has plenty of time to adapt and settle in here. We are all looking forward to discovering what Mina can do on the the field.

Valverde on Iniesta

I wish everybody was at the top of their fitness, I wish Iniesta didn’t have to suffer these minor niggles but that’s what you get in football. He hasn’t missed many games this season, he’s a player we take special caution with, he understands this. Just minor problems, like the one at the moment, he won’t lose much in the way of form or playing time. We want to avoid him getting a major injury that would rule him out for two months.

Valverde on Espanyol

It’s a team that doesn’t concede many chances. They play together, they are a difficult team to break down, it’s not going to be easy. I don’t think it will be a very open game tomorrow.

Valverde on Luis Suarez

He’s a versatile player, you can use him in a lot of ways but I see him as a No.9 centre forward. Not as a target man, he’s a different player, he keeps the ball on the ground and he scores goal. He’s dificult to mark, he wasn’t scoring many early on in the season, but he was always in goalscoring and the goals were always going to come sooner or later. He just needed a bit more luck, we all know how it goes for strikers. .