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Lionel Messi injury could cast doubt on him playing for Argentina against U.S.

March 14, 2011 |  5:45 pm


Unless the injury sustained by Lionel Messi over the weekend turns out to be less serious than first feared, the prospect of the world's top player turning out for Argentina in its March 26 game against the U.S. in New Jersey could be in jeopardy.

Messi, 23, was injured during the first half of Barcelona's 1-1 tie with Sevilla in Spanish league play  Sunday when he collided with Sevilla goalkeeper Javi Varas. He stayed to complete the game but the tie cut Barcelona's lead in La Liga to only five points over Real Madrid. Messi and Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo are tied for the league scoring lead, each with 27 goals.

The Argentine star could miss Barcelona's next match, at home to Getafe on Saturday, and whether he makes the trip to the U.S. with the Argentine national team will depend on how well and how soon he recovers from what appears to be a badly bruised knee.

"Messi suffered a bad knock on his right knee and his availability for Saturday's game will depend on his progress during the week," Barcelona said in a statement released Monday by the club.

More than 50,000 tickets have been sold for the U.S.-Argentina game at the New Meadowlands Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. The game, at 4 p.m. Pacific time, will be telecast live by ESPN2 and Univision.

Messi was one of 24 players called up for the match by Argentina Coach Sergio Batista. Others include Messi's Barcelona teammates Javier Mascherano and Gabriel Milito, as well as Inter Milan's Javier Zanetti and Esteban Cambiasso and Real Madrid's Angel Di Maria. Out-of-favor forward Carlos Tevez was not included.

Bob Bradley, the U.S. coach, is expected to name his roster later this week.

--Grahame L. Jones

Photo: Barcelona's Lionel Messi writhes in pain after a hard tackle by a Sevilla player in a Spanish league game. Credit: Marcelo del Pozo / Reuters