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Messi cleared to play

Tito Vilanova says Lionel Messi has recovered from his knee injury and will be travelling with the Barcelona team for Sunday’s match with Real Betis.

The Argentina star picked up a knock midweek and initially was a doubt for the game but his coach has insisted the forward will be fit to play.

“If there was even the smallest risk then Messi would not travel with the rest of the team,” Vilanova told a press conference.

“This means he is recovered and ready to play. However, we will assess his condition tomorrow and then decide whether he can play 90 minutes or not.”

The Barca coach said Betis are always a problem for his side and hinted that Alexis Sanchez could be close to returning after an ankle injury.

“Real Betis and (their manager) Pepe Mel cause us problems every season,” Vilanova said.

“As for Alexis (Sanchez), he has recovered faster than we thought and he is doing well physically. He just needs to get some playing time to get him up to full match fitness.”

In more good news for the Barca boss, defender Dani Alves is also close to a return after a hamstring complaint.

Sat 8 December, 2012
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