Messi returns to full training with Barcelona

Barcelona has been without Lionel Messi since the end of last season but the Argentine forward took part in full training on Wednesday.

Barcelona forward Lionel Messi missed his side's entire pre-season campaign, while he also sat out its La Liga opener.   -  Getty Images

Lionel Messi returned to full training with Barcelona on Wednesday as he nears a comeback from a calf injury.

The 32-year-old missed the whole of Barca's pre-season programme and was not part of its squad for the 1-0 loss to Athletic Bilbao on the opening day of the La Liga season.

Messi – whose last competitive outing was for Argentina in the Copa America third-place play-off victory over Chile, a match in which he was controversially sent off – has been doing solo exercises to build up his fitness and sat out the La Liga champion's first training session on Wednesday but was pictured with the rest of his team-mates later in the day.

Barca head coach Ernesto Valverde may now consider the Argentina international for selection against Real Betis on Sunday, with Ousmane Dembele and Luis Suarez already ruled out.

Dembele will miss the next five weeks with a hamstring injury and Suarez is out for an indefinite period after injuring his right calf in the shock defeat to Athletic.