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Paris Saint-Germain v Saint-Etienne: Pastore shaping up for cup return

Javier Pastore could make a return to action for Paris Saint-Germain when the holders host Saint-Etienne in the Coupe de la Ligue on Wednesday.

Argentina international Pastore has been restricted to 11 club appearances in all competitions this season having battled conjunctivitis and a calf problem.

His most recent ailment is an adductor injury but the former Palermo star is back in training and coach Laurent Blanc will assess Pastore’s fitness ahead of the last-16 clash.

“Javier has returned to training with the group,” Blanc told a media conference. “We will wait to see if he can be in the squad but we are starting to see the end of his physical problems. It is a good thing for us.”

In the recent past, Saint-Etienne enjoyed a status as something of a bogey team for the capital club.

This has been thoroughly scorched over recent encounters, with PSG winning the past seven meetings between the two sides.

These victories include a pair of Coupe de la Ligue triumphs on their way to hoisting the trophy over the past two seasons.

Reserve goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu might be handed a rare start in the tie, a selection that would come against the backdrop of a dreadful error from regular number one Kevin Trapp in Sunday’s win over Lyon.

Trapp’s misjudgement for Jordan Ferri’s 24th-minute goal was ultimately of little consequence as the runaway Ligue 1 leaders stormed to a 5-1 win – Zlatan Ibrahimovic netting a brace to take his club tally to 16 for the season.

Either Trapp or Sirigu will not face a similarly potent threat, with Saint-Etienne drawing a blank in four of their past six domestic matches.

They have recorded a solitary win during this period and lie seventh in the standings after the 1-0 weekend loss to Monaco.

Coach Christophe Galtier is refusing to panic, although he might not welcome further cup action after suggesting Saint-Etienne’s Europa League commitments are taking their toll.

“We have to support the players and encourage them, be united,” he told reporters. “The squad has been weakened and these things happen. You have to be clear-headed in both your analysis and choices of personnel.

“We’re struggling in comparison to other seasons. We  have played 30 games in the first half of the season – that’s a record at Saint-Etienne.

“There’s no crisis and I’m not resigned to our fate.”

Galtier will be without Kevin Malcuit for the Parc des Princes tie after the defender was sent off at Monaco.

Mon 14 Dec, 2015
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