Higuain recalled but no place for Dybala or Icardi in Argentina squad

Gonzalo Higuain has earned a recall to the Argentina squad for this month’s friendlies against Italy and Spain but Paulo Dybala and Mauro Icardi miss out.

Higuain is sidelined with an ankle problem and is a doubt for Juventus’ crunch Champions League clash with Tottenham next week.

Nevertheless, his 14 Serie A goals this season have been enough to persuade Jorge Sampaoli to select the frontman for the first time since September.

Higuain’s Juve team-mate Dybala has made a pair of substitute appearances since returning from a hamstring injury but misses out alongside Icardi, the Inter captain who has only scored once since the turn of the year.

Sergio Aguero was, like Higuain, dropped earlier this season – reflecting the considerable strength Sampaoli enjoys in forward positions, even allowing for Dario Benedetto’s cruciate knee ligament injury – but his prolific recent run for Manchester City made the 29-year-old a safe selection this time around.

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Giovani Lo Celso is retained in midfield, having made his full international breakthrough in the November friendlies with Russia and Nigeria, but there is still no place for his Paris Saint-Germain colleague Javier Pastore.

Everton defender Ramiro Funes Mori is included after returning to training following two knee surgeries, although the centre-back has not played competitively this season.

Ajax left-back Nicolas Tagliafico and West Ham midfielder Manuel Lanzini will have the opportunity to add to the caps they won in last year’s end-of-season tour to Australia and Singapore

Uncapped Chelsea goalkeeper Willy Caballero, 36, has been called up alongside Sergio Romero and Nahuel Guzman.

Sampaoli will later add players from the Argentine Primera Division to what is presently a 22-man group over the coming days.

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Racing Club’s Inter target Lautaro Martinez is expected to earn his first call-up after scoring a hat-trick in front of Sampaoli in Tuesday’s 4-2 Copa Libertadores win over Inter, while Boca Juniors star Cristian Pavon is also in line to feature after impressing during Argentina’s last friendly run-out against Russia and Nigeria.

Squad in full: Sergio Romero (Manchester United), Nahuel Guzman (Tigres), Willy Caballero (Chelsea); Javier Mascherano (Hebei China Fortune), Nicolas Otamendi (Manchester City), Federico Fazio (Roma), Gabriel Mercado (Sevilla) Marcos Rojo (Manchester United), Ramiro Funes Mori (Everton), Marcos Acuna (Sporting CP), Eduardo Salvio (Benfica) Nicolas Tagliafico (Ajax); Lucas Biglia (AC Milan), Ever Banega (Sevilla), Leandro Paredes (Zenit), Angel Di Maria (Paris Saint-Germain) Manuel Lanzini (West Ham), Giovani Lo Celso (Paris Saint-Germain); Diego Perotti (Roma) Lionel Messi (Barcelona), Sergio Aguero (Manchester City), Gonzalo Higuain (Juventus)


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