Luis Enrique says Lionel Messi’s recovery is proceeding as expected but offered no update on when the forward is expected to return to action.
It was hoped the Argentina captain, who has been sidelined with a knee injury since the end of September, will be fit to face Real Madrid on November 21.
Reports in Spain over the weekend suggested Messi has suffered a setback in his recovery and would miss the Clasico against Real Madrid, but Luis Enrique appears to be unconcerned over the progress of his star’s rehabilitation.
“I have no news. He’s recovering quite normally for a player with that kind of inury,” the head coach said on Tuesday.
“Every player has a different recovery process to go through but as far as I’m aware he is progressing well, as any player would.”
Luis Enrique was then asked whether he felt Neymar had embraced his role as a leader of the team in Messi’s absence, to which he responded: “This is a question I’ve not been asked yet!
“When we have Messi we have certain resources we like to exploit, but I always ask the players to do what they can without relying on others.”
The Barca coach was further irritated when asked for his view on the Halloween controversy following the win over Getafe, when a number of players interrupted the home side’s press conference wearing masks, prompting apologies from the club and captain Andres Iniesta.
“The players made an announcement, they made their position clear on that. This is how anything positive is turned into something negative,” he said.
“I’d rather focus on important things, like tomorrow’s game [against BATE]. If you’re going to ask about Saturday, don’t even take the microphone.
“We played a great game, we won 2-0, that’s all that happened as far as I think it is worth commenting on.
“Otherwise it’s part of the circus of the football world, as it is today. The players made a press statement and that’s where we should leave it.”
Barca appealed a UEFA fine issued due to the display of flags supporting Catalan independence against Bayer Leverkusen, but Luis Enrique insisted his team will not distracted by off-field issues against BATE.
“If we think about the difficulties of the game we had there [in Belarus], we know we’ll have to play a very complete game,” he said.
“Beyond what might happen before the game, what we know is that the fans will be supporting us in everything connected to sport.
“We go to the stadium tomorrow to play football and reach the next round. That’s what we’re interested in, I’m sure the fans are too.
“The important thing is to qualify and then try to win the group. Then it all depends on which teams are second because there could be a lot of surprises.
“But we need to win points to do that.”
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