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Lionel Messi injury: Argentina hope to have captain back for Copa America quarter-final

Lautaro Martinez scored twice as defending champions Argentina eased past Peru 2-0

Lionel Messi

Argentina are hoping to have Lionel Messi available for their Copa America quarter-final on Thursday.

Messi has a thigh problem and missed the final Group A game, a 2-0 win against Peru that saw Lionel Scaloni’s men through to the last eight with a 100 per cent record.

Next up is a meeting with the runners-up from Group B, likely to be either Ecuador or Mexico, in Houston.

Argentina assistant Walter Samuel, who stood in for the suspended Scaloni for the game and the post-match media duties, is optimistic their talismanic captain will be fit.

He said “He was in the locker room, we noticed him better.

“The situation is improving but it’s a few days and the situation is premature to talk about. We’ll talk about it on a day-to-day basis with him, and talk to the doctors.”

Veteran winger Angel Di Maria says it is on the other players to step up when Messi is absent.

He told TyC Sports: “Leo is fine, he is recovering.

“When he’s not there we all have to do twice as much. We try to do what he does on the field. I think it’s a nice victory for him too.”

Lautaro Martinez was the Argentina hero in Messi’s absence, scoring both goals to take his tally in the tournament to four.

The Inter striker will be a key man for Argentina, irrespective of who they play in the quarters.

Samuel added: “They are different rivals. We faced Ecuador in the last friendly. We know them, and have a capable coach. The physical part is a big deal, but they have a great technical quality too. They are playing this tournament well, and it’ll be difficult.

“With Mexico, well we faced them in the World Cup. They have different characteristics but it’ll be difficult. For now, we are happy and want to value this victory before focusing on the next match.”

Picture of Jon Fisher

Jon Fisher

Jon has over 20 years' experience in sports journalism having worked at the Press Association, Goal and Stats Perform, covering three World Cups, an Olympics and numerous other major sporting events.