Lionel Messi could make his first appearance of the season on Tuesday after being passed as fit and included in Barcelona’s squad for the Champions League opener against Borussia Dortmund.
Messi has not featured this term after injuring his calf in his first training session of preseason in August. He missed Barca’s tour of the United States and hasn’t played in any of their opening four La Liga fixtures.
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However, he was able to do some light training on Friday ahead of returning to full training on Sunday. He also trained on Monday with his teammates in Barcelona before flying to Germany.
Barca did not put a timeframe on Messi’s injury but his time on the sidelines was beginning to provoke some concern. Though he was initially expected back for the game against Real Betis on Aug. 25, a setback in training forced him to take a step back in his recovery.
He didn’t join up with Argentina during the international break in preference of working on getting back to full fitness in Barcelona.
Barca coach Ernesto Valverde, who named Messi in a 22-man squad, said on Monday that Messi would be a match-time decision.
“We will make a decision tomorrow,” Valverde said in a news conference in Dortmund. “We have not had a clear idea over the past few days but in the last few training sessions, he has been feeling better and he has been putting the pain he has out of his mind. It is important to be able to play without thinking about it [pain]. He has made great progress, but we will evaluate tomorrow. “
Valverde will cut four players on Tuesday.
Goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen said that everyone is anxious for Messi’s return.
“Of course we miss him and you can tell when he is not playing with us,” he said. “I hope he is able to return and can help us.”
Goalkeeper Neto has also been included, having recovered from a wrist injury.
Despite Messi’s return, youngsters Ansu Fati and Carles Perez remain with the first team and, along with Antoine Griezmann and the fit-again Luis Suarez, provide Valverde with an array of attacking options at Signal Iduna Park.
Ex-Dortmund forward Ousmane Dembele is still missing, though, with a hamstring issue. The Frenchman is closing in on a return to action, having started light training over the weekend.