Messi won't end up in hospital - Hierro

The former Bolton defender does not think the Argentina star will become the latest in a long casualty list that contains some of the world's finest players this summer
Spain legend Fernando Hierro does not think that Lionel Messi will fall foul to a serious injury at the World Cup thanks to the increased protection from referees.

There have been a string of injuries leading up to the World Cup since the turn of the year which have stricken the likes of France's Franck Ribery, Germany's Marco Reus and Colombia's Radamel Falcao.

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However, former Real Madrid defender Hierro cannot see a similar fate befalling the Argentina striker during the tournament, which starts for Alejandro Sabella's men on June 15.

"Fortunately, I remember every time I left the field when injured by a violent foul, I have never been sent to a hospital. Messi never ends up in a hospital, unless he is visiting someone," he said.

"Nowadays, in the world of football, the referees protect the players. The rules will help forwards. It's been transformed into a visual feast.

"He'll play at the World Cup, enjoy it, hope that his team can win it... But, under no circumstances will he be stretchered to hospital."

The Albiceleste's forward options - including Sergio Aguero, Ezequiel Lavezzi, Gonzalo Higuain and Messi - are considered among the best in the tournament, but Hierro also thinks that the South American nation have a solid defence to back them up.

"If you look at the players Sabella has with Argentina, it is clear that any of their forwards could play in any team. Messi alone will not win or lose the World Cup though. A team must pursue stability.

"Historically, Argentina has great defences and very good forwards. And now I see great togetherness. The experience of players like Martin Demichelis can help the balance."