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Dec, 6, 2012

Messi feared worst after 'bang' on knee

Lionel Messi says the knee injury picked up against Benfica on Wednesday night is not as serious as first feared, and he could be back in action for Sunday night's Primera Division game at Real Betis.

• Blog: Injury made Camp Nou freeze

Messi was stretchered off following a challenge with Benfica goalkeeper Artur during the 0-0 Champions League draw at the Camp Nou, with tests carried out immediately after the game discovering bruising on the outside of his left knee.

Concerns among Blaugrana fans - and hopes among Real Madrid supporters - that the Argentine might face some weeks on the sidelines were eased on Thursday morning as he worked out in the gym at Barca's Ciutat Esportiva.

He was then also able to attend a post-training commercial event as scheduled, where he told the assembled reporters he had feared a more serious injury as he was leaving the pitch.

"I feel fine, luckily it was only a bang," Messi said. "At the time I thought the worst because of the pain. When they examined me and discarded the idea of a serious injury, I was calmer."

Messi, a substitute in the game, said the collision with Artur had been painful, but he had still tried to complete the move and score.

"I thought it would be the last ball I would touch for a long time," he said. "Despite the pain I tried to play on and hit (the ball)."

Barca fans need not worry should he not make it back in time for Sunday's game at the Estadio Benito Villamarin and miss a first game through injury since sitting out two matches in September 2010 with an ankle knock, Messi said.

"I do not know if I will be there on Sunday, it depends on how it improves," he said. "The team will go on the same with or without me. We have plenty of other players."

Messi dismissed a suggestion that, with Barca already sure to top the group, he had only played to try and score the two goals he needs to pass Gerd Muller's calendar-year record total of 85.

"When we go out on the pitch we always have the risk that something might happen," he said. "Muller's record is not an obsession for me. It would be nice to break it, because the record has been there for many years. If it happens then good, but there is no problem if not."

There was other good fitness news for Barca with Andres Iniesta and Jordi Alba returning to normal training with the group after minor niggles earlier in the week, and Alexis Sanchez, Marc Bartra and Dani Alves all stepping up their recoveries from injuries which have seen them miss recent games.

Barca's players have Friday off, but are back at the Camp Nou on Saturday morning, when Messi's knee will be evaluated and a decision taken on whether he travels with the squad to Sevilla on Sunday.

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