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Lionel Messi returns to Barcelona, available to play against Elche

Jan 2, 2014, 11:16 AM EDT

Barcelona's Messi celebrates after scoring against Manchester United during their Champions League final soccer match at Wembley Stadium in London Reuters

Following the final phase of his rehabilitation from thigh injury, Lionel Messi has flown back to Barcelona from his native Argentina.

With his return to the Catalan capital on Wednesday, Messi is set to return to the Blaugrana for Sunday’s home match against Elche.

Messi suffered a tear in his left hamstring during Barcelona’s La Liga match against Real Betis on November 10th.

The injury was expected to keep the four-time world player of the year out for six to eight weeks and with that time now expired, most expect Barca manager Gerardo Martino to hand his compatriot at least some playing time in this weekend’s La Liga match.

Barca also have a Copa del Rey match next Wednesday against Getafe where Messi is expected to play a part before the title tilt against La Liga rivals Atletico Madrid on January 11th.

“He definitely needed to rest physically because he had already suffered this [injury] and there was no other option than to stop playing,” said Cesc Fabregas.

“He had four or five injuries in a row in a muscle that he uses a lot in accelerating from a standstill, which is what sets him apart. He had to stop no matter what and he’ll be like a bull when he is back.”

Barcelona are currently level on points (46) with Atletico but lead the league on goal difference. Real Madrid sit third in the table, five points adrift.

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