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Injured Messi uncertain about comeback date

Reuters
Barcelona's soccer player Messi receives the Golden Boot trophy from former player Stoichkov during an award ceremony in Barcelona
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Barcelona's soccer player Lionel Messi (R) receives the Golden Boot trophy from former player Hristo …

By Tim Hanlon

BARCELONA (Reuters) - Golden Boot winner Lionel Messi is uncertain when he will return to action for Barcelona having suffered a series of injuries this season.

It has been a frustrating run for the Argentine who was presented with the Golden Boot trophy in Barcelona on Wednesday for a record third time having hit 46 goals in the 2012-13 La Liga season.

"I am very happy to receive the award even though it isn't objective. It shows how well the team has been playing and it reflects the group as a whole who have supported me," said Messi on receiving the award for top goalscorer in the European leagues.

However, Messi conceded it was unclear when he would be fit again after suffering yet another hamstring strain in the first half of Barcelona's La Liga match against Real Betis on November 10.

"I am improving and feeling better but it is not possible to say when I will be ready to play, we will have to see how it goes," said the World Player of the Year.

"My target is to get back and enjoying playing again."

Club vice-president Josep Bartomeu has said Messi could be ready within three weeks but Barca are giving him longer to build up his legs.

This is Messi's fourth injury, with the first during pre-season, as hamstring strains have returned to plague him.

Of the 11 significant muscular injuries he has had while at Barcelona, nine have involved his hamstrings.

The arrival of Neymar has meant Barca have not been as dependent on Messi this season but the injury problems could hamper his chances of winning a fifth consecutive Ballon d'Or although he remains among the favorites alongside Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo and France's Franck Ribery.

(Editing by Alison Wildey)

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