Is Lionel Messi playing today? Latest updates on Argentina star availability vs Paraguay in World Cup qualifying

With Lionel Messi missing considerable time for Inter Miami in the past month, the 36-year-old’s fitness has been a persistent topic of conversation.

Messi sustained a muscle issue during the last international break, and then was withdrawn from a club match in mid-September against Toronto FC after 35 minutes. He missed four games following that injury before returning off the bench to play a half-hour against FC Cincinnati last weekend.

Inter Miami have continued to insist that Messi’s injury was down to “fatigue” and was nothing to be concerned with long-term, and sure enough he was called into camp for international duty in October.

With his absence so recent, it’s understandable to be concerned with Messi’s fitness and question whether he will play a part in the World Cup qualifiers against Paraguay and Peru, or if he is simply in the bloated Argentina squad to serve as a decoy and play a leadership role.

MORE: Where to watch Argentina vs Paraguay in World Cup qualifying

Is Lionel Messi playing today? Latest updates for Paraguay match

Lionel Messi participated in Argentina training on Tuesday, and by all accounts was fully involved, looking his impressive self as he scored some exceptional goals in the match portion open to media.

According to Gaston Edul of TyC Sports, Messi was a full participant in training and maintained a similar level to that of his teammates.

With that, some reports have surfaced that Messi will start against Paraguay, as Lionel Scaloni is not expected to make too many changes from the group that won its September matches against Ecuador and Bolivia.

Argentina predicted starting lineup vs Paraguay

Argentina head coach Lionel Scaloni named a bloated 36-man squad for the matches against Paraguay and Peru this month, but Angel Di MariaPaulo Dybala, and Juan Foyth were forced to withdraw due to injury. Lisandro Martinez will also be unavailable after having to undergo another foot operation.

Now that Inter Miami’s playoff run is officially over, Argentina can feel a little better about deploying Messi at full 90-minute use despite his recent fitness issues, knowing his club season is nearly over and he’ll have months of rest upcoming. Messi missed the last match against Bolivia, and missed four Inter Miami games after, but he returned for a half-hour of action in their final fixture before the international break.

Messi’s club teammate Facundo Farias was also included on the roster but it’d be surprising if he saw the field.

Argentina projected starting lineup (4-3-3): E. Martinez (GK) — Molina, Romero, Otamendi, Acuna — De Paul, E. Fernandez, Mac Allister — Messi, J. Alvarez, N. Gonzalez.

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