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The Argentine has begun work on his physical conditioning after tearing a thigh muscle in November as he looks to return to action following the winter break.

Barcelona has received encouraging news ahead of 2014 after confirming Lionel Messi has entered the third and final stage of his injury rehabilitation.

Messi has been sidelined since the Liga clash with Real Betis on Nov. 10 with a torn left femoral bicep, and has spent the past three weeks recuperating in his native Argentine at the headquarters of the Argentine Football Association.

Barca sent sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta and club doctor Ricard Pruna to check up on Messi's progress and the club has now announced that the Ballon d'Or holder is progressing as planned as he looks to be fit in time to return to action after the winter break.

"Tests on Friday on the premises of the AFA have confirmed that Messi has completed the clinical stage of his recovery. The player now begins the third stage, the physcial preparation," a statement on the club's website reads.

Messi, who managed 14 goals in 16 appearances prior to his latest injury, is expected to be fit to return in January, although the top-of-the-table clash with Atletico Madrid on Jan. 11 could come to soon for the Argentina captain.

The 26-year-old has been named as one of the three nominees for the 2013 Ballon d'Or, along with Bayern Munich's Franck Ribery and Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo, despite seeing much of the past year blighted by injury problems.

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