Mascherano takes step closer to full fitness

Barcelona's Javier Mascherano took a step closer to a return to full fitness on Thursday after making his comeback in a practice match.

The Argentina international has been sidelined since suffering a hamstring injury against Real Sociedad on September 24th, but made a welcome return to action with an appearance in a behind-closed-doors clash against third-tier outfit Sant Andreu.

Mascherano was part of a young side featuring several Barca B players, with the midfielder completing a 45-minute run out as he stepped up his recovery.

The Catalan giants went on to win the game 4-1 courtesy of goals from Pol Calvet, Munir El Haddadi Mohamed, Denis Suarez and Carles Planas.

However, there was no place in the side for Jordi Alba, Isaac Cuenca or Lionel Messi - as the trio continued to be absent from first-team duties due to their own injury problems.

Messi was withdrawn from the Argentina squad earlier this week and is expected to be sidelined for another fortnight with a hamstring injury.