By Steven Wyson
Lionel Messi has alleviated the injury crisis growing early on this season at Barcelona by returning to full training on Wednesday.
Messi injured his right calf during pre-season and missed Barca’s opening game of the 2019-20 season, with the LIGA Champions losing 1-0 at Athletic Bilbao last Friday.
Louis Suarez and Ousmane Dembele are both currently out of action, with the former coming off during the defeat to Athletic because of a muscle injury.
Dembele, meanwhile, has been diagnosed with a hamstring strain, and is out for up to five weeks in the latest injury setback for the France international.
Messi’s absence was keenly felt in Bilbao as Barca fell to a late loss courtesy of a stunning Aritz Aduriz bicycle kick in the 88th minute, but the Camp Nou legend is closing in on a return to action.
Messi had been training separately from the rest of the squad since suffering his calf injury on August 5, but was back on the pitch with his team-mates in Wednesday’s session at Ciutat Esportiva Joan Gamper.
Valverde will be hoping that Messi is fit enough to start against Real Betis at Camp Nou on Sunday evening as Barca look for an immediate turnaround in fortunes.
Messi’s potential return would also ease the pressure on Antoine Griezmann early on in his Barca career after the France forward struggled to make an impact playing in a wide role against Athletic.