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Pogba signs fan's Man United shirt

The Toe Poke
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By ESPN Staff

Messi steps up recovery programme

Barcelona forward Lionel Messi has stepped up his recovery from an ankle injury by undertaking an individual training programme.

Messi was carried off on a stretcher on Sunday following a late challenge by Tomas Ujfalusi in the 2-1 win at the Vicente Calderon - an incident which saw the Atletico defender sent off.

"Lionel Messi's road to recovery took a step forward on Friday as he strolled onto the training pitch for the first time to work on his individual programme," a statement on club's official website read on Friday. "He has moved up a gear and moved outside along with a coach and worked away from the rest of the first-team squad as he battles to regain full fitness.''

Initial tests revealed ligament damage to Messi's right ankle but no break, and that was confirmed on Monday after the World Player of the Year underwent an MRI scan at the Hospital de Barcelona.

Barca said he would be out for at least two matches - the midweek game against Sporting Gijon and tomorrow's trip to Athletic Bilbao - and it would then depend on how his injury improves as to when he will be available to coach Pep Guardiola.

Despite the injury, Messi was included in a 25-man Argentina squad named by Sergio Batista on Thursday to play Japan in Saitama on October 5.

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