De Jong not expected to miss rest of Barcelona season, says Setien

Omnisport

Barcelona boss Quique Setien does not expect the injured Frenkie de Jong to miss the remainder of the LaLiga season.

Midfielder De Jong has a calf injury and will not be involved when the Catalans host Athletic Bilbao on Tuesday.

There have been suggestions the Netherlands international is likely to miss the rest of the league season, as Barca attempt to defend their title from Real Madrid over the final eight matches.

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Setien, though, expects De Jong to recover sooner rather than later.

When asked if De Jong could miss the rest of 2019-20, he told reporters on Monday: "We hope that won't be the case. He has a small injury in the area of his calf and we'll see how he progresses. But I'm sure he'll be able to play a few games.

"He's a complete player because he gives us a lot of things when we have the ball, but he's also physical and covers a lot of space. He's young, he has dynamism, enthusiasm and quality. He's learning many things we've been trying to improve.

"It's true that he's an important loss and he could help us a lot. We're a little upset that he's not there, but these are things you have to adapt to. I still have confidence in the people who are going to play in his position."

Barca, who will also be without Sergi Roberto against Athletic, lost their place at the top of the table on Sunday as Real Madrid beat Real Sociedad 2-1 to take advantage of the champions' draw with Sevilla.

Although they are behind Madrid by virtue of their head-to-head record this season, meaning the title race is no longer in their hands, Setien says his Barca players have trained positively in recent days.

"We've trained very well. There's a bit of residual fatigue but we're going to try to keep up the excitement and expectations because we're convinced we can win the title and we're going to try to improve the footballing aspects we have to control," he said.

Setien included Jorge Cuenca and Dani Morer from the B team in his 24-man squad, but he does not necessarily expect either to play.

However, he says Samuel Umtiti has a chance of forcing his way back into the first-team picture after returning from suspension.

"As they gave us the option of taking 23 players, it's difficult for Cuenca to play, but we can't include players who haven't passed the [COVID-19] tests," he said.

"We'll see tomorrow because one of the two [Cuenca and Morer] will be left out. But they train with us every day and they're here.

"If we decided he [Umtiti] has to play, he would play. He's getting better and better and this is strictly a subject for me. These are football issues.

"It's true he's better but he was injured for a while and he hasn't been at the level of others. He's much better now and has his chances to play, like everyone else."

Setien added that Ousmane Dembele is progressing well in his recovery from a thigh injury but that his return to group training "will have to wait".

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