Samuel Umtiti's recovery from knee surgery took a big step in the right direction this week as he resumed light training away from the rest of the Barcelona squad.
Umtiti has been out of action since November as a recurring knee injury forced him to undergo vital surgery on his left knee. He returned to Barcelona at the end of December following treatment in Qatar.
Umtiti said earlier in the week that 'the injury feels good' and vowed that he would 'get back as soon as possible', but Ernesto Valverde will not rush the Frenchman back.
"It's going a bit slowly, we will see if next week or the week after he can start to do something with us to test him," said Valverde, quoted by Sport.
Barcelona's comeback win over Sevilla in the Copa del Rey this week means they are competing on three fronts in the second half of the season and would like to have Umtiti available for the run-in.
Defensive cover has been signed though, with Jeison Murillo brought in on loan from Valencia and Jean-Clair Todibo's transfer from Toulouse fast-tracked on deadline day.
There is no guarantee that Umtiti will get back into the team when fit, with the partnership of Gerard Pique and Clement Lenglet proving a successful one at the back.
Barcelona have won all seven La Liga matches Pique and Lenglet have started together since Umtiti's injury, keeping six clean sheets and conceding just once.