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Reports: Messi won’t start, could miss Argentina’s Copa America opener

Lionel Messi will not play in Argentina’s Copa America opener on Monday as he continues to recover from a back injury.

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Lionel Messi will not start in Argentina’s Copa America opener on Monday and could miss the match altogether as he continues to recover from a back injury, reports Diario AS. 

Messi sustained the injury during a friendly against Honduras on May 27, but by last week the Argentina FA announced that the star striker was in less pain and could perform his regular daily activities as he continued to undergo treatment.

On Monday, Diario AS reported the five-time Ballon d’Or winner was still feeling pain in his lower back and would not train with the team on Monday for the second day in a row.

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Argentina manager Gerardo Martino told reporters on Sunday that Nicolas Gaitan would likely replace Messi as a starter against Chile if Messi was unavailable, but that he believed Messi would be able to play in the team’s second match on Friday against Panama.

“Gaitan doesn't have to play as well as Leo, that would be an extra responsibility,” Martino said. “He needs to play his game. His job is to replace Leo, but I don’t expect him to do anything like Leo.”

The Group D match between Argentina and Chile will begin at 10 p.m. ET at Levi’s Stadium.