Inter Miami injury list: will Lionel Messi play again this season?
Herons head coach Gerardo Martino insisted that his team are still in the race for the playoffs, but have a number of fitness concerns.
Inter Miami’s chances of making it to the playoffs took a hit on Saturday night when they were held to a 1-1 draw by New York City FC.
The Herons were without Lionel Messi and Jordi Alba for the game and striker Leonardo Campana was substituted in the second half. The Ecuadorian striker is reportedly suffering some discomfort in his leg and may not be available for the upcoming fixture against Chicago Fire.
Miami have just four games remaining in the regular season and will need their squad to be at its strongest if they are to force their way into the playoff picture.
Inter Miami play “crazy number” of games, says Martino
The arrival of Messi, Busquets and Jordi Alba has brought about a remarkable turnaround in fortunes for Miami. The Herons have not only pushed up the table, but also lifted the Leagues Cup and reached the final of the US Open Cup.
Their impressive cup performances have left Miami with an incredibly demanding run of games that looks to have taken its toll on their more experienced new arrivals.
“It is really crazy the number of games we have played,” head coach Gerardo Martino said after the game on Saturday.
“Most have been critical games, which are draining physically and mentally. What our team did [against NYCFC] was valiant. We were missing key players and we kept fighting, kept trying to salvage the game.”
He continued: “When we took over this team was in last place and these young men have put us in position to have a chance at the playoffs.”
When will Lionel Messi return from injury?
Messi has shown his enduring quality since arriving in MLS, but he is also showing signs of his advancing years. At 36 he is no longer able to play games as frequently as he once was and the mid-season World Cup in late 2022 added more games to the international soccer calendar.
On Saturday night reports emerged that Messi had suffered a hamstring tear, which was likely to keep him out for the rest of the MLS season. However Miami coach Martino has insisted that the reports are false and he is confident in having his compatriot available in the remaining weeks of the campaign.
Martino told reporters that Messi, who returned to training on Friday, “feels better each day” and is being evaluated ahead of next week’s trip to Chicago.
He said: “I will repeat what I said before, we are going game by game, we will evaluate him against Chicago. We didn’t take a risk for a final, we won’t do it now.”
If you're in the United States, you can watch a live stream of the game on AppleTV.