Martino backs Gaitan as Argentina's Messi deputy

The former Boca Juniors man is in pole position to start should Messi fail to regain fitness, and his coach wants him to play his natural game in the opener

Argentina coach Gerardo Martino backed Nicolas Gaitan to prove himself should the Benfica star be called on to replace Lionel Messi against Chile.

The South American giants meet on Monday in a rematch of last year's decider, which Chile won on penalties in Santiago.

Martino, who is waiting for his captain to prove his fitness in training, said Gaitan had the ability to come through for his nation.

"I don't expect him to do anything like Leo," he said.

"I want him to be himself more than ever because he has a very good condition, and he can do it.

"He is fast, he passes the ball very well, he dribbles very well. He's a very complete player."

The Albiceleste lost out to Chile last year on penalties in the Copa America finals, but Martino played down any talk of revenge.

"We asked if it was a rematch when we played in the qualifiers," he told the press conference.

"The final of the Copa America was a year ago. Chile won on penalties.

"Not even a final would give us an opportunity for revenge. It would just give us a new opportunity."

Messi is battling a back injury ahead of the Group D encounter and must complete training to feature.

Nicolas Gaitan is set to replace the Barcelona star should he be unavailable and Martino said the Benfica midfielder needed to play his own game.