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Soccer-Pinto can step into Valdes shoes, says Barca's Martino

Reuters

By Tim Hanlon

BARCELONA, Nov 22 (Reuters) - La Liga leaders Barcelona have full faith in keeper Jose Manuel Pinto who will replace Victor Valdes while he recovers from a calf strain, coach Gerardo Martino said on Friday.

Valdes is likely to be out of action until the end of the year after suffering the injury during Spain's surprise defeat by South Africa on Tuesday.

Veteran Pinto has featured little for the club with his performances mainly in King's Cup games.

"Pinto has done well when he has played and the team has normally won. We have not made any special preparation for the game and Pinto is used to the job he has to do and is prepared," Martino said ahead of Saturday's home clash with Granada (1500).

Barcelona have a long line of injuries with Lionel Messi unsure of when he will return having suffered a series of injuries this season.

Dani Alves, Xavi, Jordi Alba and Cristian Tello are also out but Cesc Fabregas and Gerard Pique have both been given the all-clear to return.

"I don't think that we are weaker. It is not what we would have wanted and we are going to have to work hard. We are without the best player (Messi) and the best goalkeeper (Valdes) but I have full belief in those coming in," added Martino.

"The players coming in have all played and are conditioned to do well for us so there is no reason for worry." (editing by Justin Palmer)

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