World Football Injury Tracker: Week of February 23 Report with Skrtel, Abidal
Following a midweek schedule where many of Europe's top sides were in continental action ahead of a return to league play at the weekend, several sides will be hoping that their star players will be fit to return to action soon after being sidelined through injury.
Especially for those facing big clashes against top-of-the-table rivals, or decisive second-leg matches in cup tournaments, the return of one or two key names to fitness could be a determining factor in the success or otherwise of a club's season.
Here is the latest roundup of the players from around Europe who have been struggling with injury and are soon to return to action.
Martin Skrtel, Liverpool
Liverpool centre-back Martin Skrtel is likely to miss the Europa League second leg against his former club Zenit St. Petersburg with a knee injury.
The Slovakian central defender sustained the injury in training recently (via LiverpoolFC.com) and is unlikely to take part in the Round of 32 second leg.
With Liverpool having no league fixture for 10 days afterwards, however, he should be fit to take his place in the squad once more for their next game.
David Villa, Barcelona
David Villa remains injured and missed out on the 2-0 defeat to AC Milan in the Champions League on Wednesday.
Villa was injured against Cordoba in the Copa del Rey, a game Barcelona won comfortably (via FOX Sports).
He has not featured since early January, and there is currently no timescale on his recovery.
Iker Casillas, Real Madrid
Real Madrid's first-choice goalkeeper Iker Casillas remains sidelined with a hand injury (via Goal.com).
Casillas is likely to be out for up to eight weeks with a fracture he suffered against Valencia in a recent match. The Spanish international team captain will miss the second leg of the Champions League knockout tie against Manchester United, with Diego Lopez continuing in goal in place of him.
The current estimation is that he will return to fitness by late March, meaning he will miss two fixtures against domestic league rivals Barcelona over the next few weeks.
Matias Fernandez, Fiorentina
A whole string of Serie A performers are battling to be back in action by the weekend, including Simone Pepe and Giorgio Chiellini of Juventus, and Matias Fernandez of Fiorentina (via Transfermarkt.co.uk).
The Fiorentina playmaker has been out since mid-January but is expected to return to action within a week.
Genoa striking duo Bosko Jankovic and Antonio Floro Flores are also close to making their comebacks.
Eric Abidal, Barcelona
Not so much a return from injury as illness; Barcelona defender Eric Abidal has been given the all-clear to resume training after recovering from a liver transplant (via Daily Mail).
Abidal has missed around a year of football after initially having a tumour removed, before a complete transplant was also required.
He has been in full training since December and, after his latest bout of hospital tests, is now clear to resume his career and take part in first-team football games once more.
His good news comes almost a year to the day since his last senior competitive appearance for Barcelona.