Madrid, Jan 4 (IANS) Lionel Messi is back and raring to go as FC Barcelona prepare to kick off 2014 with a home match against Elche in the Spanish La Liga Sunday.
It promises to be a hectic start to the year for the reigning champions and BBVA Primera Liga leaders as the Elche game is followed by a Copa del Rey tie against Getafe in midweek ahead of their trip to face second place Atletico Madrid in the Vicente Calderon Stadium next weekend, reports Xinhua.
The good news for Barca coach Tata Martino is that he will once again be able to count on a full complement of players for what is an intense schedule.
Most important of all Messi is once again fit and ready for action.
The Argentine returned to Barcelona two days ago after being out of action for over six weeks with a hamstring injury. He has now completed two training sessions with his teammates and a hat-trick in Friday’s practice game shows he is close to his best.
“I am really happy to have been able to return to action with my companions. I feel very good,” posted the striker on his official ‘Weibo’ site.
After a season hampered by a series of muscle injuries it is unlikely Martino will risk Messi in his starting 11 and may opt to give him minutes in the second half and against Getafe to help him build up fitness and also confidence ahead of the game in the Vicente Calderon.
Messi is not the only player who is available after injury as first choice goalkeeper, Victor Valdes is also back to full fitness after missing over a month with a calf injury which he picked up while playing for Spain in November.