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Barca able to cope with forced absences, Enrique

13 March 2015, 18:10

Barcelona - Barcelona have enough depth in their squad to cope with the forced absences of midfielder Sergio Busquets and fullbacks Dani Alves and Jordi Alba, coach Luis Enrique said on Friday.

Barca are a point clear of second-placed Real Madrid at the top of La Liga with 12 games left but will be without the injured Busquets and the suspended Alves and Alba for Saturday's game at Basque club Eibar.

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"These things happen over the course of a season," Luis Enrique told a news conference.

"We have been a team that has used a lot of players up to now," added the former Barca and Spain midfielder.

"Although Sergio's absence is an important one we have the position well covered.

"We will try to do what we always do in attack and defence regardless of the players we use."

Javier Mascherano or Ivan Rakitic are likely to come in for Busquets in the holding midfield role, with Martin Montoya and Adriano covering for Alves and Alba respectively.

Luis Enrique also paid tribute to Barca captain Xavi, who will make a club record-extending 750th appearance if he features against Eibar.

Xavi considered ending his 17-year Barca career at the end of last season but Luis Enrique persuaded him to stay and the 35-year-old has repeatedly shown he can still perform at the highest level.

"He is a positive force both on and off the field and he carries enormous weight in the dressing room," Luis Enrique said. "I want him to see out the final year of his contract so he can add to that incredible number."

A win at Eibar will stretch Barca's lead over Real to four points as the European champions, who travel to Barca for "El Clasico" on March 22, are not hosting Levante until Sunday.

Champions Atletico Madrid, six points behind Real in third, play at Espanyol on Saturday, while fourth-placed Valencia could climb above Atletico if they avoid defeat at home to Deportivo La Coruna later on Friday. (Additional reporting by Elena Gyldenkerne in Barcelona, writing by Iain Rogers in Madrid, editing by Toby Davis)

- Reuters


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