The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION
Barcelona recovers Messi and Puyol in time for AC Milan and Real Madrid matches
BARCELONA, Spain - Barcelona has recovered forward Lionel Messi from a minor leg injury and captain Carles Puyol after a seven-month absence in time for its upcoming games against AC Milan and Real Madrid.
Barcelona team doctors cleared Messi and Javier Mascherano on Friday after muscle injuries in their right legs.
The 35-year-old Puyol was also deemed fit after recuperating from surgery on his right knee, which ruled him out of 27 consecutive matches since he was injured against Milan in March.
"(Puyol) is like a boy who has just made his debut in the first division," Barcelona coach Gerard Martino said. "You can't help but notice how excited Puyol is to be back with the group. I love seeing that because it means that whatever he may be lacking for not having played he will make up for in enthusiasm."
Messi, Puyol and Mascherno made the squad for Saturday's game at Osasuna, when Barcelona will try to match a Spanish league record with a ninth straight win to start the season.
Dani Alves, Alexis Sanchez and Gerard Pique were all left off the squad to give them more rest after a week of matches with their national teams.
"I didn't leave the three off for medical reasons," Martino said. "It's a question of travel time and playing minutes."
Forward Isaac Cuenca also received medical clearance on Friday after undergoing right knee surgery in June.
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