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Messi to start on bench vs. Colombia

Even though Lionel Messi has been cleared by Barcelona's team doctors to play in Argentina's World Cup qualifiers against Colombia and Ecuador, Argentina coach Alejandro Sabella said Thursday Messi will start the match from the bench.

Messi did not participate in the team's tactical training session in Ezeiza on Thursday with Walter Montillo earning the start.

Messi pulled his right hamstring on April 2. After coming back, he re-aggravated the same injury a few weeks later, sidelining him for the final three weeks of the season.

After hosting Colombia on Friday, Argentina travels to Ecuador for another qualifier on Tuesday.

Argentina leads the South American qualifying group for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

Information from The Associated Press and ESPN Deportes was used in this report.

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