Injured Messi almost irreplaceable: Guardiola

Madrid: Injured Barcelona forward Lionel Messi is almost irreplaceable but the Spanish champions are determined to put his temporary absence behind them, coach Pep Guardiola said.

Messi will miss Barca`s La Liga matches at home to Sporting Gijon on Wednesday and at Athletic Bilbao on Saturday after he was felled by a late tackle from Atletico Madrid defender Tomas Ujfalusi at the weekend and sustained ankle ligament damage.

The World Player of the Year, who scored the opening goal in Barca`s 2-1 win at the Calderon, is also doubtful for the Champions League match at Rubin Kazan on Sept. 29.

"He (Messi) has some very special talents," Guardiola told 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," the former Barca and Spain midfielder said.

The Spanish soccer federation`s disciplinary committee sanctioned Ujfalusi with a two-match ban later on Tuesday, saying he had "acted dangerously causing injury".

The Czech, who was shown a straight red card for the challenge in added time, has apologised and said he did not deliberately hurt Messi.

"I am not a hard player," he told a news conference on Monday. "I go in hard but always going for the ball and I give my all in every game.”

"There are harder tackles than the one on Messi. The problem is that I did mine on Leo Messi."

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."

Bureau Report