Pep - Messi irreplaceable
Pep Guardiola accepts Lionel Messi's absence will weaken Barcelona in their forthcoming fixtures.
Last Updated: 21/09/10 5:52pm
Manager Pep Guardiola accepts Lionel Messi's injury-enforced absence will weaken Barcelona in their forthcoming fixtures.
But the boss of the Spanish champions insists they have enough quality to cope without the Argentinean forward, who sustained ankle ligament damage after a robust tackle by Atletico Madrid defender Tomas Ujfalusi at the weekend.
Guardiola will have to make do without the 23-year-old for the Primera Liga double-header this week, starting on Wednesday against Sporting Gijon and then the Athletic Bilbao clash on Saturday.
And the Barca chief admits the reigning World Player of the Year, who is also doubtful for the UEFA Champions League match at Rubin Kazan on Wednesday week, will be sorely missed over the coming weeks.
"He (Messi) has some very special talents," said Guardiola in a news conference. "He is almost irreplaceable but we'll move on and fortunately he's out for only a short time."
Guardiola said Messi could return in two or three weeks but Barca would not rush him back into action.
"I don't know if he'll make the Rubin Kazan game. He'll rest until he is well," added the former Barca and Spain midfielder.
Ujfalusi, who was shown a straight red card for the challenge in added time of the 2-1 defeat to Barca, has apologised for the tackle and said he did not mean to cause injury.
And the former Fiorentina player was given backing on Tuesday by England's Italian manager Fabio Capello, who was in Madrid attending a Uefa conference.
"I know Ujfalusi very well and he's an honest player," Capello told reporters.
"I hope Messi returns very quickly because he's the kind of player it's always worth watching on the pitch."