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Messi set to return for Barca

Updated: 2014-01-09 07:11
By Reuters in Barcelona ( China Daily)

Barcelona received a welcome boost on Tuesday when forward Lionel Messi was given the all-clear by medical staff and was included in the squad for Wednesday's King's Cup last 16 first leg at home to Getafe.

The Argentine World Player of the Year has not played for the Spanish league champion since straining his thigh on Nov 10, the latest in a series of muscle injuries that plagued him throughout 2013.

His return will give the team a lift as it prepares for Saturday's La Liga game at title rival Atletico Madrid, which is tied with Barca at the top of the standings with 49 points from 18 matches.

Coach Gerardo Martino did not say if Messi would play against Getafe, the team against which he scored one of his greatest goals in a King's Cup game in April 2007.

Receiving the ball just inside the Barca half, Messi dashed through the opposition defense and ripped the ball into the net from a narrow angle, covering 55 meters in 12 seconds.

Many compared the goal to the brilliant effort compatriot Diego Maradona scored against England at the 1986 World Cup.

"If he plays tomorrow hopefully he will score another one just like it," said Martino with a smile. "He came back (from Argentina) and has been working like any other member of the squad," said Martino, who hails from Messi's hometown of Rosario.

"Obviously he is lacking a bit of playing time, but seeing as we are talking about Leo it is not really an issue. He has told me he is feeling fine and that is why he is on the squad."

Spain midfielder Sergio Busquets is available after he was suspended for Sunday's 4-0 La Liga win at home to Elche but playmaker Xavi will be rested.

(China Daily 01/09/2014 page23)