BARCELONA (Reuters) - Barcelona forward Lionel Messi returned to training with his team mates on Monday as he continues his recovery from a thigh strain sustained in a La Liga match at Almeria at the end of last month.

The World Player of the Year did not join up with Argentina, who had already secured their place at next year's World Cup finals in Brazil, for their last qualifiers against Peru and Uruguay, remaining in Barcelona for treatment.

Barca's next match is a La Liga trip to Osasuna on Saturday, though with a Champions League game at AC Milan looming the following Tuesday it remains to be seen whether coach Gerardo Martino will risk him in domestic competition this weekend.

"Barca's Argentine forward has taken another step forward in his recovery," the Spanish champions said on their website (www.fcbarcelona.es) on Monday.

Messi has scored eight goals in six La Liga appearances this term and netted a hat-trick against Ajax Amsterdam in his sole Champions League outing.

(Writing by Iain Rogers in Madrid, editing by Rex Gowar)