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Barca yet to decide if Suarez ready to start, says coach

Luis Suarez with Lionel Messi

Barcelona coach Quique Setien has not yet decided whether their Uruguay striker Luis Suarez is ready to return to the starting lineup when they host Leganes in La Liga on Tuesday.

Setien started Lionel Messi, Antoine Griezmann and February recruit Martin Braithwaite in the 4-0 win at Real Mallorca over the weekend while Suarez, who was fit again after injury, came off the bench for a 30-minute cameo in the second half.

Suarez, who has scored 11 league goals this season, was initially set to miss the majority of the campaign after undergoing knee surgery in January before the season was suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic in March.

“I’ve not decided if Luis Suarez will start tomorrow, I have to talk to him,” Setien told reporters in a virtual news conference on Monday. “We have to be very cautious, it’s normal to have muscular injuries after a long injury layoff.

“Griezmann has played almost every game. It’s true that there are more players now and the minutes will have to be shared… Griezmann will continue to play a leading role, he is an important player.

“Except in very specific cases due to their hierarchy, I don’t consider players to be starters or substitutes. I want everyone to participate… Any player can be on the pitch from the beginning.”

Setien said rotation would be key as the fixture crunch would lead to player fatigue.

“The idea is to make changes and there will be changes as the games go by,” he added. “We will see how fatigue affects the players.

“My job is to try and get them all to the end of the season in the best condition so that the performance is not affected by the minutes.”

Barcelona lead Real Madrid by two points with 10 games to go and Setien said there was no room for error in the title race.

“I don’t know what factor will be the most decisive in La Liga,” the 61-year-old added. “What we have to do is win.

“It’s going to be a fight in which we both know that losing is unacceptable.”

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