- Messi was replaced early on in last week’s 4-0 win over Toronto due to injury
- Jordi Alba, who was also taken off injured, was another absentee in training
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Lionel Messi was absent from Inter Miami’s final training session ahead of the US Open Cup final, sparking fears that he will miss their showdown with Houston Dynamo.
Messi is a major injury doubt for Wednesday’s final after being replaced eight minutes before halftime in last week’s 4-0 MLS win over Toronto FC with an ‘old scar issue’.
Both he and Jordi Alba – who is suffering from muscle fatigue – were taken off with problems on the night before being left out of Sunday’s 1-1 draw away to Orlando City.
Miami boss Tata Martino admitted the pair would be assessed frequently in the days leading up to the final, and it now appears they are both facing a race against time to be fit.
Messi and Alba did not take part in training at the DRV PNK Stadium on Tuesday, with the two former Barcelona stars not seen out on the field with their teammates.
Lionel Messi was absent from Inter Miami’s final training session before the US Open Cup final
Messi is a major injury doubt for Wednesday’s final after being replaced eight minutes before halftime in last week’s 4-0 MLS win over Toronto FC
As a result, he did not take part in Miami’s last training session on Tuesday ahead of the final
Messi was instead captured by ESPN cameras taking a phone call while dressed in normal attire as the squad carried out their final session.
It remains to be seen whether Martino decides to risk them from the start against Houston, bring them off the bench during the game or simply not use them at all.
Yet given his electric start to life in the States, which has seen him score 11 goals in 12 games, gambling on Messi’s fitness could be a risk worth taking.
Speaking prior to the draw in Orlando, Martino said: ‘Neither Alba nor he (Messi) are taken into account for Sunday. I haven’t spoken to Leo since the game, but it seems to me that his experience gives him the ability, even within a game, to know when to stop, when to say enough, when to take precautions.
‘And it seems very prudent to me that, at this point of his career, he exercises it more than ever because we want to see Leo on the fields much more time and I have to help him.
‘It is good for me that he becomes aware that there are moments in which we have to stop.
Jordi Alba (left), who was also replaced against Toronto due to injury, was another absentee from training on Tuesday
‘The annoying scar, I don’t know if it hurts, maybe it’s something much more medical.’
If fit in time, Messi will have the chance to land his second trophy with Miami just over two months after joining the club.
He first inspired their triumph in the Leagues Cup last month, getting on the scoresheet in their final victory over Nashville having also provided a vital equalizing assist in the semifinal.
Miami also has a faint chance of making a late dash to the MLS playoffs this season after three of their main rivals suffered defeat on Saturday.