By Adegboyega Adeleye
Inter Miami manager Gerardo Martino has said the club could “take a risk” on star forward Lionel Messi in Wednesday’s US Open Cup final against Houston Dynamo.
The Argentine forward was forced off with an injury after 37 minutes against Toronto FC and sat out Monday’s draw at Orlando City.
“We will decide tomorrow based on how he’s feeling,” Martino said.
Martino also said Messi had triggered an old injury but noted that he could make a return for the MLS side in the final.
Martino added, “Here, there are questions. The player, the [US Open Cup] final, and what comes after.
These three scenarios have to be evaluated; it is not just about the next game. Risk is always there, but we try to decrease the margin of risk.
“If it wasn’t a final, we wouldn’t take any risk, but because it is a final, there is a chance we take that risk.”
However, the manager confirmed that defender Jordi Alba is doubtful for the fixture.
Messi signed for the MLS franchise in July after his contract with Paris St-Germain expired.
The 36-year-old has already helped Inter Miami win the Leagues Cup, beating Nashville SC on penalties in the final.
Inter Miami have not lost any of the 12 matches in which Messi has featured, while he has scored 11 goals and provided five assists.
The final signals a chance for the MLS outfit to win their second trophy since Messi joined the club, adding to their victory in the Leagues Cup last month.
The U.S. Open Cup, a knockout tournament for amateur and professional teams, has been competed for since 1914, making it by far the oldest soccer competition in the country.
After the final, Miami have five games remaining in the MLS regular season as they seek to seal a late spot in the playoff positions.
On Saturday, Miami host New York City FC who currently hold the last playoff qualification spot, ninth place, and five points ahead of Inter Miami.