Barcelona have confirmed Lionel Messi has not suffered a serious hamstring injury but refused to clarify if the Argentine will be available for the Copa del Rey quarter final first leg clash with Athletic Bilbao on Wednesday night (20 January). The Ballon D'or winner was replaced at half-time in Barca's 6-0 win over the Basque side at the weekend as a precaution after suffering a knock.
Manager Luis Enrique, meanwhile, will be without both the suspended Luis Suarez and Jordi Alba for the match after the club had confirmed that the left-back will be out of action for around 10 games due to a hamstring injury.
Goals from Messi, Neymar Rakitic and Suarez's hat-trick secured a comfortable victory for the current La Liga title-holders after Athletic goalkeeper Gorka Iraizoz was sent off just five minutes into the game. The win may have come at a great cost though, after both Messi and Alba were forced to leave the pitch earlier than expected due to injuries.
Enrique suggested after the game that Messi was removed just as a caution, but refused to set a deadline for his recovery. Further statements confirm it was just a knock, but refused to offer a decision on whether he will be available for the mid-week match.
"Medical tests on striker Lionel Messi this morning have revealed great news. It turns out that the Argentine has not got a hamstring injury and has just taken a bit of a knock. It is uncertain whether or not he will be available for future matches, but there is nothing major to worry about," the club confirmed.
Messi's absence would be a major blow as Suarez is not available due to suspension – after he was banned for two cup games by the Spanish football federation for his behaviour in the previous round against Espanyol.
Alba, meanwhile, will miss the match with Athletic on Wednesday as well as the following La Liga game against Malaga.
"In the 69th minute Jordi Alba felt discomfort in his right hamstring. He is expected to be out around 10 days," the club stated.
Enrique has urged his side to not take anything for granted in Wednesday's game, believing that the cup tie will be a very different situation to the league match.
"The Copa del Rey game at San Mames won't be anything like what happened in this game," he said after the match. "The game changed completely following the penalty. Things became more comfortable for us, it became a game that we had to close out, we had to work on positioning and on creating scoring chances."
"This game will be useless as far as analysing it to teach the players what we can do to hurt Athletic in the Copa del Rey game because having an extra man is a huge advantage."