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Hector Bellerin returns to Barcelona squad for Villarreal clash

Hector Bellerin returns to Barcelona squad for Villarreal clash

Barcelona have been handed an injury boost ahead of Thursday’s La Liga contest against Villarreal, with Hector Bellerin deemed fit enough to return to the squad.

The 27-year-old, who returned to the club from Arsenal over the summer, has made two La Liga appearances for the Catalan giants during the 2022-23 campaign.

The Spaniard has been on the sidelines with a muscular problem since the middle of September, though, missing the team’s last five matches in all competitions.

The right-back has been absent for the last three La Liga fixtures with Mallorca, Celta Vigo and Real Madrid, in addition to the two Champions League games with Inter Milan.

Bellerin has recently been back in first-team training, though, and he is deemed fit enough to be named in the squad for Thursday’s clash with Villarreal.

Barcelona's Jules Kounde in action with Viktoria Plzen's Jan Sykora in the Champions League on September 7, 2022© Reuters

Jules Kounde was back in the squad for El Clasico at the weekend after recovering from a hamstring problem, and the France international played the full 90 minutes of the team’s 3-1 defeat.

The 23-year-old is again in the squad for this match, with Barcelona looking to bounce back from their first league loss of the campaign against Real Madrid.

Xavi‘s side could be six points off the summit by the time that they take to the field for kickoff here, as Real Madrid – already three points clear – face Elche on Wednesday night.

Barcelona remain without the services of three first-team players, though, with Ronald Araujo, Andreas Christensen and Memphis Depay still on the sidelines.

Barcelona's Ronald Araujo pictured in September 2022© Reuters

Christensen and Memphis are believed to be entering the latter stages of their recoveries, with the pair potentially being available before the end of the month.

However, Araujo had to undergo surgery on his damaged thigh at the end of September, and he is not expected to be available for Barcelona until after the World Cup.

Head coach Xavi could make changes to his starting side for the game against Villarreal, with Ferran Torres, Jordi Alba, Gavi and Ansu Fati among those in contention to make the XI here.

Barcelona are currently preparing for three home games in succession, also taking on Athletic Bilbao and Bayern Munich at Camp Nou before ending October with a trip to Mestalla to face Valencia.

Barcelona squad vs. Villarreal:

Ter Stegen, Pena, Tenas; Bellerin, Pique, Alonso, Alba, Roberto, Kounde, E Garcia, Balde; Busquets, Pedri, Kessie, De Jong, Gavi, Torre; Dembele, Lewandowski, Fati, F Torres, Raphinha

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