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‘Messi shaping up well’

Barcelona: Lionel Messi is showing lethal form in training that suggests he will be back to his best soon although he will not feature in Sunday’s clash with Elche, Barcelona coach Gerardo Martino said.

The Argentine has had three training sessions in Barcelona since returning from his recovery programme in Buenos Aires and Rosario and scored a hat-trick in a practice game on Friday.

“I am very pleased with his progress. He is physically strong and is showing the killer look he had before. If he continues like this and maintains the confidence then he will return to be the player that everyone remembers,” Martino told a news conference.

Messi has suffered a series of hamstring strains since the end of last season and has been out of action since mid-November.

“The treatment always depends on the extent of problem but we haven't dealt with this one any different to the others. The aim is to build him up sufficiently so that he will be strong for the rest of the season,” said Martino.

“He has been training with his team mates with the ball and building up his resistance. When he is ready then he will be put into the team.”

“Our aim was to be well-placed in all three competitions at the end of December and we have achieved that.”       (agencies)