MADRID, Jan. 4 (Xinhua) -- FC Barcelona coach Tata Martino this Saturday welcomed Leo Messi back to full fitness.
Messi has not played since picking up a hamstring injury in his side's win away to Betis on November 10 last year. Given that the striker had suffered a series of muscle injuries during 2013 and seemed to have had his confidence affected by the run of bad luck, the club decided not to rush his comeback, which was completed in Argentina.
Messi returned to Barcelona this week.
And after watching his star striker take part in three training sessions, he is on the point of making his return.
Although Martino did not say whether or not Messi would take part in Sunday's home game against Elche, he made it clear he is content with the striker's recovery.
"I see him with a killer's look in his eyes," said the coach.
"Sometimes you want things to be better than they are, but my feeling is that Leo has come back very quickly and he is in great physical shape and he has carried out three excellent training sessions with his team-mates," he added.
However, there was one factor that still worries the Barcelona coach: the fact Messi has not played a competitive game for almost two months.
"He is still lacking the rhythm of his companions, but he is in good shape and his return depends on how he feels," said Martino.
That almost certainly means Messi won't start against Elche, but he could form part of the squad and have some time as a second half substitute, otherwise he may have to wait until the midweek Copa del Rey tie at home to Getafe before making his comeback.
In his first press conference of the New Year, Martino was pleased with the physical state of the rest of the squad after a week off at Christmas, while Victor Valdes is also available again after also being out of action for six weeks as the result of a calf problem.
"We have been able to get over the injuries without the team being adversely affected the team," said the coach.
"We had intended to get to December with a chance in all three competitions and we have done that. Every competition is different and the main thing is to have all of our players available. We are all here and now we have to be able to administer that," said Martino, who added that despite the injury problems and questions over Barca's performances this campaign they were still top of the league in Spain.