By DAN KARELL and MARC SERBER
Despite the return of Cesc Fabregas to full training on Tuesday, Barcelona could be without one of its central midfield starlets for Saturday’s match against Granada.
Already having missed the Spanish national team’s trip to Africa for a pair of friendlies, midfielder Xavi Hernandez has continued to struggle to overcome a thigh injury, having trained on the side for the last few days. Xavi joins teammate Lionel Messi on the sidelines, who has his own thigh injury.
Barcelona said in a statement on its website that it would evaluate the 32-year-old’s fitness later in the week ahead of this weekend’s match. After Granada, the Catalan club visits Ajax in the UEFA Champions League.
Here are some more stories to get your Tuesday started:
HART RETURNS TO ENGLAND STARTING LINEUP
Joe Hart will have a chance to regain some confidence when England faces Germany in the final friendly match of the year on Tuesday.
At his pre-match press conference, England national team manager Roy Hodgson revealed his starting lineup for the Germany friendly and kept his promise to start the Manchester City goalkeeper for one of England’s two friendly matches in November. After Fraser Forster was selected in favor of Hart on Friday, Hodgson sounds happy to hand the reigns back to Hart.
“We’ve had no cause to doubt him during these very important World Cup games,” explained Hodgson. “In 14 games, we’re unbeaten and he’s only let in seven or eight goals in those 14 and I think he’s entitled to feel confident to pull on the England jersey.”
Despite the trials and tribulations at club level which have seen Hart lose his starting position in recent matches, the England manager expressed only confidence that Hart is still England’s best choice for the number one jersey.
ROBBEN TO MISS HOLLAND GAME, COULD BE BACK FOR BAYERN VS. DORTMUND ON SATURDAY
After suffering an ankle knock last Friday against Japan, Netherlands winger Arjen Robben has been ruled out of his nation’s friendly match against Colombia on Tuesday, according to reports in Holland.
“There is still fluid in his ankle,” Holland head coach Louis van Gaal told De Telegraaf. “This game comes too early, but I think he can play again this weekend.”
This weekend is the first match of the year between Robben’s Bayern Munich side and Borussia Dortmund. Both squads are in fine form and Dortmund is looking to close a four-point gap at the top of the table.
Tottenham midfielder Christian Eriksen is set for a three month spell on the sidelines after tearing ligaments in his ankle while on international duty with Denmark. (REPORT)
If Joe Hart continues to stay on the bench for Manchester City, the English club could look to sign Barcelona goalkeeper Victor Valdes as a replacement. (REPORT)
Argentine midfielder Dario Conca, who recently won the AFC Champions League with Guangzhou Evergrande, will return to Fluminense in January. (REPORT)
Germany will host Chile in a friendly match on March 5, 2014, in Stuttgart. (REPORT)
Two goals from Sergio Aguero gave Argentina a 2-0 victory against Bosnia and Herzegovina in St. Louis. (REPORT)
What do you think of these reports? Do you see Xavi returning for Saturday’s match in time? Do you see Hart producing a good performance on Tuesday? Do you believe Robben can return in time to face Dortmund?
Share your thoughts below.