WFC: Barcelona's Puyol still unsure of return date

FC Barcelona's Carles Puyol

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WASHINGTON — Iconic FC Barcelona defender Carles Puyol admitted on Sunday that he is still not sure when he’ll be ready to take the field.

Since undergoing left knee surgery in June, the 33-year-old team captain has not featured during Barcelona’s four preseason matches and has trained separately from his teammates during practices.

“I find myself better every day,” Puyol told media at a press event on Sunday afternoon at the team hotel. “It’s slow and it’s little by little. I’m improving every day and there are no setbacks thus far. Every day I do more work. As the doctor says, only the knee will dictate when I come back.

“I don’t know when, but I’ll be back when I’m 100 percent.”

With central defender Gerard Piqué also nursing a calf injury, FC Barcelona started regular midfielder Sergio Busquets and youngster Andreus Fontàs at center back against Manchester United in a 2-1 loss at a sold-out FedEx Field on Saturday night.

Piqué did participate in training on Sunday at RFK Stadium with other players who did not see significant minutes against the English Premier League champions. The rest of the squad did regeneration work at the hotel gym before the club departed for Miami in the afternoon.

The club has 14 days until its first competitive match of the season against none other than eternal rivals Real Madrid in the first leg of the Spanish Supercopa set for Aug. 14. Despite a trophy being at stake in the home-and-home series, Puyol will not be rushing his comeback.

“I always want to play,” he said. “What happens is that this is an important injury. I injured [my knee] six months ago and I want to make sure I recover well.”

Puyol may have a chance to beat out Ibrahim Afellay to the field after it was revealed that the Dutch attacker would miss four to five weeks with a torn left hamstring suffered in the 41st minute against Man. United, the first match of Barcelona’s US tour.

Injuries or not, the Blaugrana are undeterred. It’s once again silverware or bust for the team widely considered to the best in the world.

“We’re going to go for it all,” Puyol said in reference to the six trophies up for grabs this season. “We will go out to win all the games. Our philosophy is clear: go out from the first minute to the last and go for it all. We’re not going to change now.”