MADRID, Jan 8 (Reuters) - Brazil forward Neymar has been withdrawn from Barcelona's squad for their King's Cup last 16, first leg at home to Getafe later on Wednesday after coming down with gastroenteritis.
Neymar was examined by club medical staff and told he needed time to recover and was replaced in the squad by Spain playmaker Xavi, who had initially been rested for the game at the Nou Camp, Barca said on their website (www.fcbarcelona.es).
Neymar's absence makes it more likely that World Player of the Year Lionel Messi will make his first appearance since straining a thigh muscle in November.
The Argentina forward was given the all-clear on Tuesday and coach Gerardo Martino could give him some playing time to hone his match fitness before Saturday's La Liga game at title rivals Atletico Madrid.
Barca and Atletico are level at the top on 49 points from 18 matches, with the champions ahead on goal difference. (Reporting by Iain Rogers, editing by Ken Ferris)