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BARCELONA

Messi cleared for Huesca, as Smalling discusses challenge

Messi cleared for Huesca, as Smalling discusses challenge

Michael Regan

Getty Images

Lionel Messi has been given the all clear for Huesca following assessments of a facial injury picked up against Manchester United on Wednesday.

Lionel Messi has been cleared to play for Barcelona against Huesca on Saturday, after the club’s medical staff assessed a facial injury sustained during the Champions League clash with Manchester United at Old Trafford on Wednesday.

The Barcelona striker came out the worse after a rough aerial challenge by United defender Chris Smalling in the 29th minute, which left him with a bloody nose and bruising around the eye. While Messi did manage to continue to the game, Barcelona’s medical staff made the decision to carry out an assessment to see if there was any further damage that would have kept him out of action this weekend.

But Barcelona daily Sport reports that Barça’s medical team have given the Argentine striker the green light for Saturday’s clash with Huesca. Nevertheless, with the league virtually wrapped up, coach Ernesto Valverde may opt to rest the number 10 on Saturday ahead of the second leg of the Champions League quarterfinal against United on Tuesday.

Smalling discusses Messi challenge

Meanwhile, Smalling himself has given his take on the Messi challenge to BBC Radio Five Live. Given the nature of the challenge, the United defender was fortunate not to be booked by the referee -- who neither called a free kick -- but claimed it wasn’t his intention to hurt the Barcelona player. 

"I didn't realise at the time that I'd actually caught him like that,” Smalling told the BBC. "We spoke afterwards. We had a brief chat and shook hands.”

"Suarez [came up to me] after the game as well. We had a good tussle and he just shook my hands afterwards and said 'good luck',” the England international added.

"It's nice when you can have that battle on the pitch and then there's respect after the game because, ultimately, you are just trying to do your best."