Lionel Messi fit to play for Argentina vs. Panama in Copa America
Lionel Messi will play in Argentina's second game at the Copa America on Friday after recovering from a back injury, coach Gerardo Martino says.
The Barcelona star participated in full team training in Chicago on Thursday and Martino said he expects him to be fit to face Panama.
Messi has been fighting a back injury he suffered in a friendly against Honduras last month. He missed the Albiceleste's 2-1 win in their opener against Chile on Monday night.
But Martino said in a news conference on Friday that he could see no drawbacks to playing him.
"Messi trained with the group and is going to play [on Friday]," said Martino. "I see no reason to not include him."
Martino also said Lucas Biglia, who is recovering from a muscle tear, could be fit to play some minutes in Argentina's final group-stage game against Bolivia on June 14.
"Biglia is recovering very well," Martino said. "We will see in the third group game if he can get some minutes."
Argentina already came through their biggest test of the group stage, but Martino said his team would not let up until their place in the quarterfinal was secured.
"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."
Before Messi's fitness was confirmed, Panama coach Hernan Dario Gomez left no doubt over his thoughts about his involvement on Friday.
"You can work a lot to build a team, but against Messi there's nothing you can do," he told reporters. "If Messi's inspired he can kill anyone.
"One works on tactics and has a team, but individuals are above that in football. Messi is a man who is above everyone.''
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