MADRID (Reuters) - Barcelona forward Lionel Messi was back in training on Monday five days before the La Liga leaders play at second-placed Real Madrid in the first of the season's two 'Clasicos'.
Messi has not featured since sustaining a knee injury at the end of September, depriving the Spanish and European champions of their talisman and top scorer.
Barca have performed well in the Argentina captain's absence, however, with Uruguay striker Luis Suarez and, especially, Brazil forward Neymar in fine form.
"The session included Leo Messi, who is continuing his recovery from the left knee injury he picked up on Sept. 26," Barca said on their website (www.fcbarcelona.es).
Croatia midfielder Ivan Rakitic, sidelined since damaging a calf muscle in the Champions League Group E game at home to BATE Borisov on Nov. 4, was also back in training, they added.
With 11 matches played, Barca, who are chasing a sixth La Liga title in eight years, lead Real by three points, with Atletico Madrid a further point behind in third.
Reporting by Iain Rogers, editing by Ken Ferris