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BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) - Lionel Messi is in good spirits and with patience will recover fully from his thigh injury, Argentina coach Alejandro Sabella said as he left Buenos Aires on Wednesday for the World Cup draw in Brazil.
Messi, Argentina's big hope for a third world title next year, is recovering from the injury that has sidelined him until next month with physiotherapy sessions at the Argentina team's training complex on the outskirts of the capital.
"Both times I saw Lionel, he was on the (treatment) table… we chatted a bit. On Monday he did some light movements on the field, he's well, I saw him in good spirits," Sabella told reporters.
"We must be patient because it's an injury that takes time (to recover from), but he'll recover and be good."
The Argentina captain suffered a thigh strain playing for Barcelona last month and returned home at the weekend for the second phase of his recovery. He will go back to Barcelona on January 2 to prepare for his comeback.
Since helping Argentina book their ticket to the World Cup finals with two goals in a 5-2 win in Paraguay in September, Messi has missed two qualifiers and two friendlies due to injury.
The draw takes place at the Costa do Sauipe resort on Brazil's Atlantic coast on Friday with Argentina, third in the FIFA rankings, among the eight top seeds.
"It will be an atypical draw because there could be some very strong groups. Let's hope we don't land in one (of them)," Sabella said.
"I figure if all goes well, you can have less fatigue."
Writing by Rex Gowar, editing by Ed Osmond