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Martino says Messi a game-day decision against Monterrey

Inter Miami star forward Lionel Messi, still struggling with a right hamstring injury, will be a mtch-day decision regarding playing against Monterrey in the CONCACAF Champions Cup first-leg match at Miami (Chris ARJOON)
Inter Miami star forward Lionel Messi, still struggling with a right hamstring injury, will be a mtch-day decision regarding playing against Monterrey in the CONCACAF Champions Cup first-leg match at Miami (Chris ARJOON)

Lionel Messi, nagged by a hamstring injury, will be a game-day decision for Inter Miami to play against Mexican rival Monterrey in Wednesday's CONCACAF Champions Cup quarter-final first leg match.

Miami coach Gerardo Martino confirmed Messi's still-uncertain status on the eve of his club's home match against the five-time Cup champions from the Mexican league.

Messi has missed Miami's past three MLS matches with the right hamstring injury but practiced alongside Inter teammates Tuesday morning, sparking anticipation he might be healthy for the first time since helping Inter reach the quarter-final by beating Nashville on March 13.

"Tomorrow we'll decide. Today, I don't know," Martino said about Messi's availability.

"He trained today, yes. There's still 24 hours left. Tomorrow we'll decide."

Martino refuses to risk the eight-time Ballon d'Or winner from Argentina for the season for the sake of a better chance at a Cup triumph.

"The main thing is Leo's injury and managing the times of that injury," Martino said.

"While it's true we play a very important game tomorrow, you have to realize we're in the beginning of April, everything is just getting started.

"What we can't do is put our players' physical condition at risk We'll decide what's best for Leo."

Uruguayan striker Luis Suarez has five goals and three assists for Miami in MLS matches with two goals and two assists in Cup matches.

"We know we're going to suffer, we're going to struggle because (Monterrey) have their strengths," Suarez said. "But we have to be prepared for those moments. And whoever plays best over 180 minutes will advance."

That will include the second leg in Mexico on April 10.

Monterrey, co-leaders in the Mexican league with Club America, are sparked by Spain's Sergio Canales and former Cincinnati striker Brandon Vazquez with five goals each.

Defender Sergii Kryvtsov was ruled out with an injury while center back Nicolas Freire, on loan from Pumas, is questionable.

"We have to face tomorrow's game without any type of excuse," Martino said. "You all know the reality but we are in conditions to compete and compete well even with the injuries."

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