Messi a doubt for Orlando game with injury knock

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Lionel Messi will be evaluated ahead of Inter Miami’s clash with Orlando City on Wednesday after suffering a minor knee injury, assistant coach Javier Morales said, while Jordi Alba will be available for selection.

Messi picked up the injury in Miami’s 3-2 win over Montréal on Saturday. The Argentina forward was fouled by Montreal’s George Campbell in the 40th minute, forcing Messi to do down holding his knee, although he was cleared to play the remainder of the match.

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“We are going to check Messi today, see how he feels today during the training session and then make a decision,” Morales said. “Yesterday, he did the bike and jogged a little bit and felt his knee a little bit but we’ll see how he is today.

“He suffered a hit to the knee on Saturday vs. Montréal, he continued playing through the end of the game and then iced it when finished. He trained with the players yesterday who did regenerative work, with the bicycle and a bit of jogging on the field.

“Now, like the rest of the players, we will evaluate them to see how they feel and who is ready,” Morales said. “Serhiy Kryvtsov, for example, felt a cramp. Yesterday, the players that started vs. Montréal did regenerative work at the gym. We’ll talk to them today, see how they feel and see what we do against Orlando City tomorrow.”

Messi, like most players who started the match against Montréal, did not feature in the first 15 minutes of training on Tuesday morning. But Morales said he has a “competitive” mentality when coming back from a knock.

“I have known Messi as a person for a year, he is such a competitive player,” Morales said. “Everything he plays in he wants to win. Everything he does, he tries to do his best. He came here to try and build this league and now he is getting ready for Copa América. Every time he plays, he’ll try to do his best. We’re very happy and pleased to have him with us.”

Morales said Miami will ask MLS to provide clarity on the two-minute sideline rule that forced Messi out of the match on Saturday.

Because of new MLS regulations, “If the referee stops play due to a potential player injury in which the player remains on the ground for more than 15 seconds and the medical staff enters the field of play, the player may be required to leave the field of play for two minutes.”

Messi exited the pitch in a crucial moment, after the foul inspired a free kick for Miami in a prime position for the player to score.

During his brief stint on the sideline, the player turned to the camera to express disdain while angrily shaking his head.

“Something we’ve talked about within the team is these MLS rules cannot be so black and white, and must be open to interpretation,” Morales said on Tuesday. “Especially with these, as they are being done on a testing basis because it’s not something that comes from FIFA. There must be an interpretation.

“In the case of Messi, we are losing 0-2 and there is a clash between two players,” he said. “You all know that Leo is the last person to waste time on the pitch, he is hurt and has to get out of the field. We don’t want to waste time, we’re losing. So that’s where the interpretation of the rule comes in.

“We know it’s on a trial basis, and we hope MLS can review and analyze these situations to have better resolutions in the future.”

Meanwhile, Alba joined several players on the field during Tuesday’s session open to the media.

The defender returns after a four-game spell on the sidelines after suffering a right-leg injury during the second half of the 3-2 win over Sporting Kansas City on April 13. He is expected to feature against Orlando.

“Jordi is ready and back, and we’re happy to have him back,” Morales said.

Miami will head to Orlando as leaders of the Eastern Conference table with 27 points in 13 games and a 8-2-3 record.

Now, the Herons will attempt to earn their first victory at Inter&co. Stadium in Orlando, Florida, on Wednesday night.

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