Lionel Messi & Gerard Pique
Lionel Messi (left) injured his left knee in Barcelona's win over Las Palmas in SeptemberReuters

Barcelona's Lionel Messi and Ivan Rakitic have returned to training and could feature against Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu on 21 November.

Argentine Messi has been out of action for nearly two months with a knee injury, while Croatia international Rakitic has not played since suffering a calf muscle tear against BATE Borisov in the Champions League on 4 November.

Both players have not joined up with their respective national sides during the international break in a bid to return to fitness for the first El Clasico of the season.

"The Barcelona first team returned to training on Monday after three days rest. The session included Leo Messi, who is recovering from the knee injury sustained on 26 September, and Ivan Rakitic, who picked up a calf injury on 4 November," a statement on Barcelona's official website said.

Spanish daily AS reported that Messi had taken part in training last week, but Barcelona did not issue an official confirmation of the 28-year-old's return at the time.

The paper said Messi was likely to be named as a substitute against Real and join the action in the second half, similar to when he came off the bench to score the winner at Atletico Madrid in September.

Injury warning

Argentina's team doctor Homero de Agostino warned Barcelona against rushing Messi back to fitness last week, saying it could aggravate the forward's knee problem.

Lionel Messi
Spanish media expect Messi to start on the bench against Real MadridAFP

"I doubt that Messi will be fit to play El Clasico," De Agostino was quoted as saying by ESPN. "The coach cannot trust in somebody who has just recovered. The problem is when the player hits the ball with his instep, which reproduces the mechanism of the injury.

"I don't believe the problem is physical, but rather football. Although it is Messi, he will need to get his rhythm back with the football."

Barca goalkeeper Marc Andre ter Stegen also took part in training after sitting out last week's sessions due to dental surgery. Luis Enrique's side top the La Liga table by three points ahead of arch rivals Real.