Barcelona coach Gerardo Martino has heralded the imminent return of club captain Carles Puyol following a lengthy absence through injury.
After two weeks off due to the international break, the Blaugrana are gearing up for their clash with Sevilla on Saturday, and, although the 35-year-old Puyol is not expected to feature, Martino revealed that the veteran could make his comeback in a week's time.
"Puyol's return means we have the center back we all wanted. I'm very happy about it," Martino told reporters on Friday. "The captain is back.
"He is at the end of his recovery, he could be back in full training ahead of next week's game against Real Sociedad."
Martino also explained is decision to drop Pedro from the squad and insisted that Lionel Messi and Neymar are both set to play against Sevilla despite a hefty chunk of travelling during the international window.
"Pedro has played two games with Spain, that's why he's rested this time," Martino said. "He's fine now, but we need him for the next nine or 10 months.
"Messi and Neymar made long trips, but they have trained very well - we'll see how they feel tomorrow and see if they can complete the game."
Martino also denied claims he had asked the Argentine Football Association not to call up Messi for the Albiceleste's final two qualifying games.
"We didn't ask the Argentina football federation not to call up Messi next time," Martino said. "I wouldn't do anything like that, I've been a national team coach myself. It's been a while now that Messi has been as good for Argentina as he is for Barca. He's decisive for us and for them."