Messi trains separately, sparks injury speculation

Messi trains separately, sparks injury speculation

Argentina forward Lionel Messi attends a training session at Qatar University in Doha. (AFP photo)
Argentina forward Lionel Messi attends a training session at Qatar University in Doha. (AFP photo)

DOHA: Lionel Messi did light training away from his Argentina teammates on Saturday, triggering speculation among some fans that he may be nursing an injury three days ahead of his team's World Cup opener against Saudi Arabia.

But Argentinian media said the 35-year-old captain, who is competing in his fifth and last World Cup, was being kept apart as a "precautionary" measure due to muscle fatigue.

Messi, whose team are among the favourites in Qatar to lift the one major trophy that has eluded his brilliant career, also stayed away from main training at the Qatar University on Friday, remaining in the gym with some other players.

Messi missed a Paris St Germain game earlier this month due to an inflamed Achilles tendon. But Argentinian media said there was no real doubt that he would miss the Saudi Arabia game.

Meanwhile Poland defender Matty Cash had a special request for Aston Villa teammate and Argentina goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez ahead of their meeting at the World Cup: to get him Messi's shirt.

Premier League colleagues Cash and Martinez will turn rivals when Poland take on Argentina in Group C on Nov 30.

Asked if he had been in touch with Martinez ahead of the tournament, Cash told reporters on Saturday: "No bets. I asked him for Messi's shirt, if that's possible.

"Obviously when we step on the pitch, we become rivals although we are teammates at Villa. It's another massive game against a really strong opponent."

In Qatar, English-born defender Cash will play his first major tournament with Poland after being granted citizenship last year.

The 25-year-old, who has seven caps for Poland, qualified for citizenship through his mother and grandfather.

"Everybody dreams of playing at a major tournament and it has come now [at the World Cup], which is really exciting," Cash said.

"I really like pressure and think playing in the Premier League is pressure in itself... I want to prove myself on the biggest stage and this is the time to do it."

Poland begin their World Cup campaign tomorrow against Mexico, whom Cash described as a very strong team.

"Mexico are good but we have to believe we are better," he added. "In our camp, we have to focus on ourselves and get ourselves right."

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