Ernesto Valverde staying calm despite Ousmane Dembele’s new injury
Dembele had only recently returned from almost four months out
Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde is determined not to “over dramatise” the latest injury setback for Ousmane Dembele.
The 20-year-old France international is facing another month on the sidelines picking up a hamstring problem when coming on as a substitute during Sunday’s 4-2 LaLiga victory over Real Sociedad.
Winger Dembele had only recently returned from almost four months out with a hamstring injury which saw him make just three appearances following a then club-record £96.8million transfer from Borussia Dortmund.
Valverde is likely to have to do without Dembele for at least three weeks, while Philippe Coutinho’s debut following his move from Liverpool, which could end up costing the Catalan giants £142million, is on hold because of the Brazilian’s thigh problem.
Centre-back Samuel Umtiti is also working his way back to full match fitness.
The Barcelona boss, though, will take things one step at a time as he prepares the LaLiga leaders for the first leg of their Copa del Rey quarter-final at city rivals Espanyol on Wednesday night.
“He suffered a significant incident at the start of the season in Getafe and now he has a small problem, that has little to do with the previous one,” Valverde said at a press conference, as quoted in the Spanish media.
“We won’t over dramatise (this injury) either. People start to talk about how some players have an issue and in the end people start believing it.
“I have no doubt that the player will overcome it.
“He had been playing little bits of matches as he returned and the plan for him was to come back little by little.
“It’ll be the same when he returns from this one. We hope that he’s not missing for long.”
The Blaugrana head to Estadi Cornella-El Prat looking to extend their unbeaten run to some 30 matches.
Valverde, though, will not take the challenge of his former club lightly.
“Espanyol are in a good run of form, as the numbers show,” said Valverde, who guided the club to the final of the 2007 UEFA Cup at Hampden Park, where they were beaten on penalties by Sevilla.
“It’s a derby and any gap is reduced as a result of the emotional factor.
“You need to try not to have bad spells in knockout ties because they can prove costly.
“We must try to be solid. It will be difficult to reach the semi-finals, and we respect them a lot.”
Espanyol midfielder David Lopez believes Quique Sanchez Flores’ men will be more than ready to tackle their illustrious rivals head on.
“We will compete and there will be no lack of intensity or desire to win the game,” Lopez said on the club’s official website.
“We are in good shape to play Barcelona – if we could choose one, it would be this one.”
Lopez added: “We will compete and try to win, specially, at home where we will have the support from our fans.”