Barcelona head coach Luis Enrique has confirmed Lionel Messi will be fit for Saturday’s Clasico at the Santiago Bernabeu.
The Argentina captain has been sidelined since suffering knee ligament damage in the win over Las Palmas in September.
Luis Enrique says no decision has been made on whether he will start but the signs are positive following Messi’s efforts in training.
“Regarding Leo, he’s back with the squad, it’s generally positive. He’s fit, back training, and that’s great news for us,” he said on Friday.
“There’s still today’s training session and things to talk about. We know he won’t be 100 per cent fit, that’s impossible.
“I don’t have things planned that well. I’ll speak to him today and tomorrow, and an hour before, things will be decided.”
Both Neymar and Luis Suarez have enjoyed strong runs of form in the absence of Messi but Luis Enrique expects such standards to be maintained regardless of who is available.
“I always expect the best from my players, all of them in the team. I don’t tell them they have to play better because others are injured,” he said.
“When a player like Leo is missing,
other players have to take over and show their virtues, and they’ve done that.”
Rafael Benitez confirmed Madrid are likely to be at full-strength despite recent injury concerns and the international break, but Luis Enrique believes the spectacle will be all-the-richer should both sides field their strongest possible starting XI.
“We don’t tend to plan our games around who plays for the other team. There are certain patterns you have to adapt to. They have players who may or may not play and their line-up could be different.
“We’re of course aware we’re playing a team of huge magnitude but I think it’s nice the best players in each squad are able to play as it makes the spectacle even better.
“You have to take it into account but they have players who’ve had similar journeys. These are young people who are used to this, they’re not old like we are!”