By 90Min
November 04, 2017

Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde has admitted that he does not expect to see Ousmane Dembele on the field for Barcelona before Christmas, as the youngster continues his recovery from a knee injury. 

There had been hope of an early return among some fans after a picture emerged online of the 20-year-old wearing a pair of football boots, but Valverde outlined to the media on Friday exactly where Dembele is in his recovery process. 

"He did a recovery session in the sand...without boots," he said. "It's the normal process. I spoke with him, he's happy, things are going well. The recovery is going as planned. We don't expect to have him back before Christmas."

One player who is coming back from injury, though, is Andres Iniesta - who was included in Barca's squad to face Sevilla on Saturday. Speaking on his captain's importance to the team, Valverde said: "Iniesta is the same as Messi, he's an extraordinary player. 

"It's normal that it tells when he doesn't play. The presence of Andres - or, in this case, the absence - is always noticed. But we also have other players with good qualities that can do well for us [in midfield]."

The Catalan giants can open up an 11-point lead over Real Madrid before Los Blancos face Las Palmas on Sunday, but Valverde warned: "This is just getting started. It's absurd to be doing somersaults at this stage of the season, everything can change in a week.

"We have to focus on ourselves and on our own game. Right now, that means being competitive and winning against Sevilla this weekend."

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