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Friday December 6, 2013 MYT 12:57:02 AM
Friday December 6, 2013 MYT 12:57:11 AM
by tim hanlon
Barcelona's Jordi Alba grabs the shirt of Atletico Madrid's Diego Costa (R) during their Spanish SuperCup first leg soccer match at Vicente Calderon stadium in Madrid August 21, 2013. REUTERS/Sergio Perez
BARCELONA (Reuters) - Barcelona welcome back Jordi Alba for their King's Cup clash at Cartagena on Friday but the Spanish champions still have several players unavailable through injury.
Alba, out of action since September with a hamstring strain, returns at a difficult time for the Catalan club, who hope a victory over lower-league Cartagena will boost morale after defeats by Ajax and Athletic Bilbao.
However, Lionel Messi, Victor Valdes, Dani Alves, Xavi and Andres Iniesta all are still injured.
Captain Carles Puyol has been in and out of the treatment room this season, and although he is now included in the squad it is unlikely he will start.
Defender Gerard Pique has been left out of the squad for Friday's away leg, as he is being rested by coach Tata Martino.
"All matches have dangers, and this is the same as any," Martino told a news conference.
"We know that we are playing against a third division side but we need to do our work and try to win."
(Editing by Stephen Wood)
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