Messi in Argentina for pre-Copa friendly

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BUENOS AIRES: Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi joined the Argentina squad on Wednesday as it prepared for a friendly with Honduras ahead of next month’s Copa America tournament, the country’s football association said.

The Argentina Football Association said Messi, 28, and his Barcelona teammate midfielder Javier Mascherano had joined the squad, in a Twitter message on Wednesday morning.

In a later message it said Mascherano had taken part in a training session at the squad’s Ezeiza training ground but Messi had not.

The football association said members of the squad would give a press conference at 1530 GMT at the training ground, south of Buenos Aires.

Argentina host Honduras on Friday in the western city of San Juan.

That will be a farewell to the home fans before the squad heads to the United States for the Centennial Copa America international tournament, from June 3 to 26.

Between Friday’s game and the start of the Copa, however, Messi will have to return to Spain where he is summoned to face tax evasion charges in a trial scheduled to start on May 31.

He is expected to rejoin the squad before its first game of the tournament, against Chile in California on June 6.

Argentina and Chile are in Group D, along with Panama and Bolivia.

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