Ernesto Valverde has said Ousmane Dembele will not be back in time for next weekend’s Clasico despite returning to training this week.
“He has been doing a lot more with the group this week, but he hasn’t completed a full training session yet,” the coach told a news conference on Saturday.
“Next week we will increase his workload, but the plan is the same as before. January is when we hope he will come back.
“It would be premature — risky, even — to bring him back [early]. Our idea at the moment is to leave it until January.”
And despite media focus drifting towards next Saturday, Valverde said the players had not been distracted by the looming Madrid clash.
“No, the Clasico is not affecting the players,” he added. “They’re worried about Sunday’s game.
“We know we have a week after to then think about the Clasico, so by no means are we distracted by the Clasico.”
Sergio Busquets and Luis Suarez are a booking away from a suspension and would miss the trip to Madrid if they were to get a yellow card against Depor.
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