Lionel Messi: Injured Argentina forward out of 2018 World Cup qualifier

Lionel Messi will miss Argentina’s 2018 World Cup qualifier in Venezuela on Tuesday after injuring his groin in Thursday’s 1-0 victory over Uruguay.

The Barcelona forward scored on his return from international retirement to send Argentina top of the South America qualifying group.

Messi said after the game that his groin had been “hurting a lot”.

Argentina coach Edgardo Bauza said: “He won’t be able to play. We can’t take any risks. We must take care of him.”

After seven of the 18 qualifying games Argentina lead Uruguay, Colombia and Ecuador by one point with Brazil a point further back in fifth.

A top-four finish will secure automatic qualification for Russia 2018, with the fifth-placed side facing a two-legged play-off against a team from Oceania – New Zealand, New Caledonia, Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands or Tahiti.

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