Vilanova: Playing youth players is a matter of courage

Barcelona coach Tito Vilanova has hinted that he believes Real Madrid are not brave enough to blood youngsters in the first team.

Jose Mourinho has come under scrutiny recently for ignoring the Madrid youth academy after playing Michael Essien at left-back as opposed to Nacho, who came through the Santiago Bernabeu ranks.

Vilanova, who has previously worked at Barca’s La Masia academy, believes that giving youngsters a chance in the first XI is a matter of courage.

“Controversy in Madrid about lack of academy players? I only know how we work. It’s also a matter of courage to give them chances,” he told reporters at a press conference.

Vilanova went on to dismiss rumours that he might look to sell out-of-form forward Alexis Sanchez in the January transfer window.

“Alexis is doing what I ask of him. If he doesn’t reach the level we expect, it will also be because I cannot get the best out of him.

“Nobody will leave in January. We have six attackers, all give us something different, and that’s perfect. We want to keep them all.”

Lionel Messi was given permission not to train as usual on Friday due to the imminent birth of his child, but Vilanova was confident that the Argentine would be available for selection against Celta Vigo on Saturday.

“Leo had permission not to train today, but he will play as normal against Celta tomorrow.”

Finally, the 44-year-old revealed that Gerard Pique has been making progress in his recovery from injury, and should be back in full training shortly.

“Pique has been making good progress the last days. He will join the group in a few days.”

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