BARCELONA, Spain — Barcelona defender Samuel Umtiti has been cleared to play after recovering from a leg injury that sidelined him for seven weeks.

Umtiti hasn’t played since damaging a muscle in his right thigh during a 2-2 draw with Celta Vigo on Dec. 2.

Barcelona, however, hasn’t missed the 24-year-old French center back, who had become the first-choice partner for Gerard Pique since arriving 1 ½ years ago.

Thomas Vermaelen has played well in his place, helping the team to maintain its commanding lead of the Spanish league. Barcelona currently has an eight-point lead.

Umtiti has been included in the squad for Barcelona’s game at Real Betis on Sunday.