Umtiti back in Barcelona training

Barcelona defender Samuel Umtiti appears to be closing in on a return from a lengthy knee injury.

Samuel Umtiti has not featured for Barcelona since November.   -  Getty Images

Samuel Umtiti's bid to be fit for the Champions League last-16 trip to Lyon has gathered momentum with the defender returning to Barcelona training.

France international Umtiti completed part of Friday's session as he steps up his recovery from a persistent knee problem.

The centre-back has not featured since November but recently declared his desire to be available for the Groupama Stadium encounter with his former club on February 19.

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Clement Lenglet has been Ernesto Valverde's preferred partner for Gerard Pique in Umtiti's absence, the 23-year-old starting in the 1-1 midweek draw against Real Madrid in the Copa del Rey.

The experienced Thomas Vermaelen filled the role at home to Valencia last weekend and could be considered an option to face Lyon if Umtiti does not recover in time.

It is not all good news on the injury front for the La Liga leader, however, with midfielder Athur expected to miss around a month after sustaining a hamstring injury.

Barca take a six-point advantage at the top into Sunday's visit to Athletic Bilbao.

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