Barcelona team doctors have cleared Lionel Messi to return from injury for Wednesday’s Copa del Rey match against Getafe.
Messi has spent the last two months sidelined with a hamstring tear suffered on November 10th in the 4-1 win over Real Betis.
Last year’s Balon d’Or winner has endured an injury-plagued season but returned to training at Barcelona last week after an extended rehabilitation stint in his native Argentina.
While he remains available to feature, Messi’s status as a starter or substitute has yet to be determined as manager Gerardo Martino noted Tuesday the playmaker ‘”feels fine” but failed to discuss his plan.
“Messi rehabbed well and has trained like the rest of the team,” Martino said. “Maybe he lacks some playing time, but with Leo I don’t think that will be a problem. Messi gives us all a boost of confidence. With him at our side, we all feel more secure.”
Following Messi’s injury last November, Barcelona defeated Granada before losing 1-2 to Ajax in the Champions League and 0-1 to Athletic Bilbao in La Liga. Since then, the Blaugrana have ripped off six straight victories in all competitions.
That form has ensured Barcelona top spot in La Liga (tied on points with Atletico Madrid but with a five goal advantage) and a Round of 16 place in both the Champions League and Copa del Rey.
Wednesday’s home match against Getafe is the first of the two-legged affair, with the return leg set for the Coliseum Alfonso Perez on January 16th.
Following a midweek loss against FC Edmonton, the New York Cosmos will try to rebound at home against Puerto Rico FC.
The Cosmos currently have two losses during the Fall Season, having conceded 10 goals in six matches, which is the second-most in NASL.
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With no unbeatens remaining, Spring Season champion Indy Eleven looks to keep its place near the top of the table against Miami FC.
Minnesota United looks to build off of its strong start against league leaders Rayo OKC, with the two teams separated by a mere two points.
Meanwhile, the Fort Lauderdale Strikers continue to search for their first win of the Fall Season against the struggling Jacksonville Armada.
New York Cosmos vs. Puerto Rico FC
Ottawa Fury vs. Tampa Bay Rowdies
Fort Lauderdale Strikers vs. Jacksonville Armada
Miami FC vs. Indy Eleven
Rayo OKC vs. Minnesota United
FC Edmonton vs. Carolina RailHawks
He was tabbed to be Liverpool’s opening day starter in goal, but Loris Karius could now miss the first two months of the Premier League season after suffering a hand injury in Wednesday’s International Champions Cup loss against Chelsea.
[ MORE: Real looking at Sissoko, Verratti as midfield options ]
The 23-year-old was brought to the Reds this summer from Bundesliga side Mainz for over $6 million.
Karius opted not to represent Germany at next month’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro in order to avoid missing any game action with Liverpool. Unfortunately, the young keeper will now likely miss between eight and 10 weeks.
His career ended over seven years ago, but former Italy international Christian Vieri is looking to make an improbable comeback in a country that continues to attract big stars.
The 43-year-old Vieri is reportedly coming out of retirement to join the Chinese Super League, and posted a video on Twitter confirming his plans.
Last playing in 2009, Vieri finished his career where it began — in Italy — with Atalanta. During his career, the striker played for 10 clubs in his native country, while also spending time in Spain and France with Atletico Madrid and Monaco, respectively.
Vieri made his name with Inter Milan, where he recorded six straight seasons with double-digit goals. At the height of his career with Internazionale, Vieri netted 27 times across all competitions during the 2002/03 season.
While Real Madrid still holds a slim hope of winning the signature of Juventus midfielder Paul Pogba, Los Blancos are said to have a viable backup plan in the event the Frenchman does the inevitable and joins Manchester United.
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Real is reportedly looking at another French midfielder, Moussa Sissoko, to fill the center of the park. The 26-year-old has made 118 appearances for Newcastle since joining the Magpies back in 2013.
While it may be outside option, Real is also interested in Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Marco Verratti, although the French champions likely aren’t willing to part ways with the player.
Andy King has signed a new four-year contract with Leicester City, after Jamie Vardy and Ben Chilwell each agreed to a new deals this summer with the Foxes.
The midfielder appeared in 25 matches last season in the team’s Premier League title-winning campaign, while also featuring for Wales this summer at EURO 2016.
Aston Villa manager Roberto di Matteo has confirmed that Everton is set to acquire Idrissa Gueye.
The 26-year-old shined during the 2015/16 season for Villa, appearing in matches as a deep-lying midfielder. Everton has reportedly met the player’s release clause of over $9 million, and is now discussing personal terms with Gueye.
Swansea City striker Bafe Gomis has joined French side Marseille on a season-long loan after netting 17 goals in 71 matches in England.
The Frenchman is likely seen as the replacement for Michy Batshuayi, who left for Chelsea this summer.