Alexia Putellas declared fit after 10 months out with ACL injury

Barcelona captain Alexia Putellas has been declared fit ahead of this week’s Women’s Champions League semi-final second leg against Chelsea at Camp Nou.

Putellas hasn’t played since suffering an ACL injury during a Spain training session on the eve of Euro 2022 last summer. But she moved her rehab to grass, always a big moment in such a recovery process, at the end of December and has been making steady progress ever since.

The 29-year-old, who retained both the Ballon d’Or Feminin and Best FIFA Women’s Player awards for 2022, had been edging closer to a return in recent weeks.

She wasn’t named in the matchday squad for the first leg against Chelsea last weekend, a game which Barcelona won 1-0, but did travel with the team and was in the dugout with the substitutes and staff during the game.

Doubts still lingered over exactly when she would be declared fit and whether the Chelsea return leg might come too soon, but Barcelona confirmed on Wednesday that Putellas has been ‘medically discharged’ alongside a picture of her training on the pitch at Camp Nou.

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At this stage, after the best part of 10 months out, it remains unlikely she will start or play anything beyond a cameo role off the bench.

Barcelona head coach Jonatan Giraldez described it as ‘good news’ having Putellas with the squad ahead of the first Chelsea game. “It gives us a plus on a mental level,” he added.

Avoiding defeat at Camp Nou on Thursday would see Barcelona reach the Champions League final for the third season in a row. They hammered Chelsea in the 2021 showpiece but lost their title in a titanic battle with Lyon in the 2022 final 11 months ago.