Argentina star Lionel Messi to play against Panama on Friday

CHICAGO (AP) — Argentina star Lionel Messi will return to the field Friday night against Panama after being sidelined for his country’s Copa America opener by a back injury.

Messi departed in the second half of a 1-0 victory against Honduras on May 27 with a back and rib injury. He watched as top-ranked Argentina beat Chile 2-1 on Monday night.

Manager Gerardo Martino says Messi has been training “without any kind of problem, any kind of pain,” and there is no reason for him not to play against Panama.

Messi, a five-time Ballon d’Or winner, has not won any major senior trophy since joining the national team in 2005.

A winner in Friday night’s game at Soldier Field would be in firm control of Group D of South America’s championship. Panama also won its Copa opener, 2-1 over Bolivia on Monday.

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