Thursday, January 17, 2019 | ePaper

Umtiti close to Barca return: Valverde

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Barcelona defender Samuel Umtiti could resume training this month, coach Ernesto Valverde said on Saturday. World cup winner Umtiti has struggled with a knee injury since the start of the season and, in December, began a programme in Qatar to help his recovery. He has played only eight games this campaign, the last against Atletico Madrid on November 24. Valverde, however, is hopeful the Frenchman could soon make a return. "We think that in a couple of weeks he can start training again with the team, we'll see how things are going," Valverde said at a press conference.
"I always try to be optimistic and I would like that to happen. I think he has positive feelings, let's see."
Umtiti's absence has left Barca short in central defence, with Thomas Vermaelen also injured for much of the season so far.
The club have signed Jeison Murillo on loan from Valencia to provide cover for Gerard Pique and Clement Lenglet, currently the only two fit centre-backs.

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