Barcelona's Lionel Messi should miss Clasico - Argentina doctor

Barcelona forward Lionel Messi is running the risk of a recurrence of his knee injury should he play in the upcoming Clasico, according to Argentina national team doctor Homero De Agostino.

Reports from Catalonia this week have suggested Messi has a good chance of playing at Real Madrid on Nov. 21, with the 28-year-old apparently running freely and working with the ball in training.

This is reported to have followed the successful completion of an individual programme overseen by Argentina physiotherapists Luis Garcia and Marcelo d'Andrea last week.

AS has claimed that Barca's current plan is for Messi to start the game at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on the bench -- as he did when impressing in a 30-minute cameo and scoring the winner in September's 2-1 victory at Atletico Madrid.

However, Argentina's doctor has told Cadena SER Catalonia show "Que t'hi jugues!" that Messi is unlikely to be sufficiently fit to take part.

"I doubt that Messi will be fit to play El Clasico," De Agostino said. "The coach [Luis Enrique] cannot trust in somebody who has just recovered.

"The problem is when the player hits the ball with his instep, which reproduces the mechanism of the injury. I don't believe the problem is physical, but rather football. Although it is Messi, he will need to get his rhythm back with the football."

When Messi picked up the knee injury against Las Palmas in late September, the club quickly set his recovery period at seven to eight weeks -- the exact time between that game and the Clasico date.

Since then, however, club figures including president Josep Maria Bartomeu and coach Luis Enrique have regularly said that they will not rush his return and that the most important thing is to ensure he is back to his best for the remainder of the season.

Barca sporting director Robert Fernandez underlined that stance in an interview with RAC1 show "Tu Diras."

"What we want is that, when a player returns, he is in the best condition possible," Fernandez said. "In no moment has the club thought about a date. Not the Clasico nor anything else -- what we want is for him to return well."