Lionel Messi returns to Barcelona training after hamstring injury

Barcelona forward Lionel Messi has returned to training after a five-week absence with a hamstring injury.

The Argentina star, 26, returned to Spain from Buenos Aires, where he has been receiving treatment, on Thursday.

He went straight to Barca's training ground and took part in a practice session with his team-mates.

Barca without Messi

Pedro

23 November: Won 4-0 v Granada (h)

26 November: Lost 2-1 v Ajax (a)

1 December: Lost 1-0 v Athletic Bilbao (a)

6 December: Won 4-1 v Cartagena (a)

11 December: Won 6-1 v Celtic (h)

14 December: Won 2-1 v Villarreal (h)

17 December: Won 3-0 v Cartagena (h) 

22 December: Won 5-2 v Getafe (a)

The four-time Ballon d'Or winner has not been included in the Spanish champions' squad for Sunday's La Liga match against Elche.

Messi was ruled out for between six and eight weeks after limping out of a 4-1 win at Real Betis on 10 November.

He was initially treated in Barcelona before being allowed to return to Argentina before Christmas to continue his rehabilitation.

Leaders Barcelona host newly-promoted Elche in their first game after the Spanish top-flight's winter break.

They are top of the table ahead of Atletico Madrid on goal difference after 17 games, with Real Madrid five points adrift in third place.