Copa America 2016: Lionel Messi could play against Panama, says Gerardo Martino

Santa Clara (US): Argentina coach Gerardo Martino expects Lionel Messi to be fit for his team's second Copa America fixture this week. Martino revealed the 28-year-old could be fit to return for Argentina's second game against Panama at Chicago's Soldier Field on Friday.

Lionel Messi
Lionel Messi

"He has continued working here, he's kicking the ball better now," Martino said.

"We expect in four days he'll be in a condition to play. So we're thinking we will be in a better position by then."

Although Messi's replacement, Benfica's Nicolas Gaitan, performed well on the right side of Argentina's front three, Martino is not discounting the importance of their absent talisman.

"We're always a better team when Messi is in the team," Martino said. "Our chances of winning the Copa are always going to be higher when he's playing."

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