Messi to return for Argentina against Panama


Lionel Messi will return from injury for Argentina when they face Panama in the Copa America Centenario on Friday, coach Gerardo Martino has confirmed.

Messi sat out the Group D opener against Chile on Monday after struggling to overcome a niggling back injury in time for the 2-1 triumph.

Martino said after the match he expected the Barcelona forward to be ready to face Panama at Soldier Field.

And, having now returned to full training with his team-mates, the Argentina boss is ready to welcome his talismanic forward back to the fold in Chicago.

"Messi trained with the group and is going to play tomorrow [Friday]," said Martino. "I see no reason to not include him."

The 2015 Copa America runners-up were also without Lucas Biglia in their opening match, but Martino does not anticipate the Lazio midfielder featuring until the final group game against Bolivia.

"Biglia is recovering very well. We will see in the third group game if he can get some minutes," he added.

The victory over Chile delighted Martino, but he is not getting ahead of himself with regards to a potential title challenge.

"The pressure against Chile gave us the result. [Panama] is a totally different game," he added.

"We are the same as last year but have started better. It was a promising debut, but we are only aiming to qualify."