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Lionel Messi is declared fit to play for Argentina against the U.S.

March 18, 2011 |  7:57 pm

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Lionel Messi, soccer's reigning world player of the year, has been declared fit to play for Argentina in its upcoming matches against the U.S. in East Rutherford, N.J., on March 26 and against Costa Rica in San Jose, Costa Rica, on March 29.

Messi's status for the two international friendlies had been called into question after he injured his right knee on Sunday playing for Barcelona against Sevilla.

But Sergio Batsista, the 1986 World Cup winner who is now coach of Argentina's national team, said Friday in Buenos Aires that he had talked to the high-scoring forward and that Messi said that he felt fine.

One player who will miss both matches is starting goalkeeper Sergio Romero, who plays in the Dutch league for AZ Alkmaar. No reason was given.

Mariano Andjuar of the Italian Serie A club Catania will start in Romero's place, Batista said.

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--Grahame L. Jones

Photo: High-scoring Argentine forward Lionel Messi is on the attack for FC Barcelona in a Spanish league game against Sevilla on Sunday. Credit:Cristina Quicler / AFP/Getty Images

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