Lionel Messi ‘expected to RETURN for Inter Miami’s crucial MLS game vs. Toronto on Wednesday’ after missing defeat by Atlanta United with ‘muscle fatigue’
- Lionel Messi has not played for Inter Miami since going on international duty
- But the 36-year-old took a full part in training ahead of Wednesday’s game
- DailyMail.com provides all the latest international sports news
Lionel Messi is expected to return for Inter Miami’s MLS game with Toronto on Wednesday night, according to reports.
The 36-year-old missed the team’s 5-2 loss at Atlanta on Saturday with what coach Gerardo ‘Tata’ Martino described as ‘muscle fatigue’.
The defeat further dented Miami’s hopes of reaching the playoffs but Messi took a full part in training on Tuesday and ESPN report that the Argentina international will feature in the crucial MLS game.
Messi has not played for Miami since September 4 after going on international duty and missing both the Atlanta defeat and the team’s victory over Kansas City.
In a statement on Tuesday, Martino would not confirm whether Messi or Jordi Alba – who also missed the defeat by Atlanta – would be available to face the Canadian side.
Lionel Messi is expected to return for Inter Miami’s MLS game with Toronto on Wednesday
‘Messi and Alba will train in the full session today with the team, and after that we’ll see if they’re available to play and to what extent,’ Martino said.
‘Beginning on Wednesday, we have six matches in 18 days, which is one match every three days, including the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup final.
‘We have a lot of important matches in a short window of time, and one of my responsibilities as the coach is to care for my players and help them make the hard decisions that will give us the best chance of keeping everyone healthy during this busy run.’
Miami sits second bottom of the Eastern Conference, seven points off the playoff places with six regular season matches to play.
Last weekend, thousands of fans were left distraught after traveling across the country to see their hero play in Atlanta – only to learn that he had stayed back in Miami.
Gerardo ‘Tata’ Martino would not confirm whether Messi or Jordi Alba would face Toronto
Ahead of the highly-anticipated – and sold-out – MLS fixture between Atlanta United and Inter Miami, thousands of pink Messi jerseys were seen around the stadium, but their favorite player was nowhere to be seen.
DailyMail.com spoke to fans outside the 73,000-seater Mercedes-Benz Stadium who had traveled thousands of miles in a bid to see Messi in the flesh, only to learn that he will miss his first MLS game since joining Inter Miami.
One family drove 10 hours overnight from South Florida to be at the game in Atlanta, while most fans had paid hundreds of dollars for the privilege of a ticket.
Until Saturday morning, it was anticipated that Messi would at least play some part in the match, but images then surfaced online of him watching his son’s soccer game for the Inter Miami academy.