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Carles Alena selected ahead of Malcom for Rayo Vallecano tie

Carles Alena selected ahead of Malcom for Rayo Vallecano tie

Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde has called up Carles Alena for the Saturday evening fixture with Rayo Vallecano.

Promoted to the first team over the summer, Alena is yet to be given a chance by Valverde in the league, but his impression against Cultural Leonesa has seen him selected ahead of both Denis Suarez and Malcom for the weekend visit to Madrid.

Alena did not start the midweek Copa del Rey tie but came on and impressed, swaying Valverde to install him alongside young defender Chumi in the squad for Saturday’s game.

His appearance was his first of the season after missing out previously due to injury and regaining fitness and playing time with the B side.

Lionel Messi, Samuel Umtiti, Thomas Vermaelen and Sergi Samper (injured against Cultural Leonesa) all miss out as they recover from their respective injuries.

Barca can retain top spot if they beat Rayo on Saturday evening, before their attentions turn to the Champions League tie with Inter Milan next week.

Messi, who returned to training this week – could be in line for a return against the Italian side, as could Umtiti, who has stepped up his recovery, despite initial reports he would be ruled out until 2019.

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