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Lionel Messi trains in the gym despite injury in last night's Champions League game

Updated: Thursday, 06 Dec 2012 13:23 | Comments

Lionel Messi was carried off in last night's Champions League game
Lionel Messi was carried off in last night's Champions League game

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Lionel Messi worked out in the gym as his Barcelona team-mates trained this morning, and the Argentinian could yet be fit for Sunday's match against Real Betis despite being carried off in last night's Champions League clash with Benfica.

Messi gave Barca a major injury scare in last night's goalless draw, colliding with Benfica goalkeeper Artur Moraes and then falling awkwardly in the 84th minute.

But the club said last night that Messi had suffered nothing more than a bruised left knee and today they confirmed via their twitter account that he had been able to work in the gym.

The final Group G game was meaningless to Barcelona, forcing coach Tito Vilanova to defend his decision to send Messi on as a 58th-minute substitute.

Messi, 25, went into the game one goal shy of Gerd Muller's record of 85 in a calendar year but Vilanova denied that played a part in his selection.

"We talked about the possibility of him playing for 30 minutes. He's a player that likes to play," said the Barca boss.

"He's not focused on breaking the record that everyone is talking about, if that were the case he would have played against Alaves (in the Copa del Rey last week) and the full 90 minutes against Benfica.

"Playing is part of his physical training."

"He's a player that likes to play" - Tito Vilanova

Vilanova was adamant he would not change the way Messi was handled.

"Should we sub him out every time we're leading 3-0 in case he picks up an injury?" he added.

"We've never behaved this way. I'd make the same decision (to play him) seeing that he can get injured at any moment."

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