Messi vs Nashville - CCC [1296x729]
Messi vs Nashville - CCC [1296x729] (Credit: EPA/CRISTOBAL HERRERA-ULASHKEVICH)

Bo Bichette has 3-run triple Yusei Kikuchi solid as Blue Jays beat Royals 5-3 for 7th win in 9

Inter Miami head coach Gerardo "Tata" Martino confirmed Lionel Messi's role remains undefined ahead of the first leg of the Concacaf Champions Cup quarterfinal clash against Liga MX's CF Monterrey Wednesday at Chase Stadium in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"We'll define [his role] tomorrow. Today I don't know, but he trained. We're still defining it, we still have 24 hours," Martino said at a media availability Tuesday.

- Stream on ESPN+: LaLiga, Bundesliga, NWSL more (U.S.)

"Leo has an injury, and we have to manage his minutes. We have an important game tomorrow but we have to think that we're just starting April.

"For us, this is all just starting and we cannot put the conditions of our players at risk. We will determine fundamentally what is the best for Leo and every other player, and then we'll make the correct decisions," he added.

Messi could return to the pitch for the first time since March 13, when he was forced off after 50 minutes of the 3-1 Champions Cup win against Nashville SC. Following the match, the 36-year-old withdrew from Argentina's squad due to a right hamstring injury and watched from afar as Miami faced D.C. United, the New York Red Bulls and New York City FC.

He finally trained with the rest of the squad on Tuesday morning, arriving minutes behind his teammates before joining the ongoing scrimmage.

Monterrey head coach Fernando Ortiz admitted Lionel Messi's fitness will be a "determining" factor in the first leg, but added that the entire roster is "worrisome."

"It's not just the players of names like [Jordi Alba, Sergio Busquets, Luis Suárez and Messi], the entire team worries me, not just one name in particular. Miami is a very interesting team, they reached the same round as us," he told media later on Tuesday. "Those players are ones that have shown interest on an international level, but all of Miami worries us.

"They are a rival in the quarterfinals. They come with a special condiment, which is by my consideration the best player of all generations, that's the special flavor. But my players and this institution know that this is the rival if we want to go on to the next round."

He added: "I don't think we are the favorites. It's going to be a close game that can be determined in the details. I think whether Messi plays or not will be a determining factor, but I trust my players."

if Messi is passed fit, Monterrey have multiple players with experience in trying to stop him.   

"[Esteban] Andrada and Maxi [Meza] played with him, [Jesús] Gallardo and myself who have faced him with the national team," said veteran Mexico defender Héctor Moreno. "Thanks to being on an experienced and valuable roster with great knowledge, the players don't ask me in particular for advice against Messi. We know we cannot give space to that type of player.

"My most recent experience with Messi was the World Cup, and I gave him half a meter and he changed the score and our World Cup path. We have to be vigilant of those types of situations."

Miami's team continues to be plagued with injuries even beyond Messi. Defender Nicolás Freire also trained ahead of the Monterrey match, but his availability will also be "defined tomorrow."

Defender Serhiy Kryvtsov is still recovering from the hamstring issue that kept him out of Sunday's MLS match, while Federico Redondo, Facundo Farías, Ian Fray and Robbie Robinson remain sidelined with long-term injuries.

"We have to face tomorrow's match with no excuses," Martino said. "The reality is we are currently under the conditions of having difficulties with injuries that affect us from competing.

"The feeling inside the locker room is we are always one week away from a full squad, then something happens a week later. We have been dealing with situations the past couple weeks, but we have the expectations of competing well with the absences that we have. But surely when we have everyone we'll be stronger.

Suárez has been the focal point of Miami's attack in Messi's absence and says the squad has the quality to cope without the eight-time Ballon d'Or winner.

"[Messi is] a player that makes a difference, we know it," he said. "We'll wait until tomorrow to see if he's there but if he's not we'll do it like we did the other day and win the games without him. If he's there, we'll enjoy it more.

"We know it's a long season, we have a lot of injuries but we have a big team and we have a lot of really good players that can replace the others. Play continues, if the team stays together and keeps going forward that's the focus."

Miami bypassed the initial round of the Champions Cup by winning the inaugural edition of Leagues Cup in 2023.

The team then triumphed over Nashville, holding the MLS team to a 2-2 draw in the first leg of the round of 16 clash before triumphing 3-1 at Chase Stadium the second time around.