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ESPN FC  By ESPN staff

Gonzalo Higuain named to Argentina squad, Mauro Icardi left out

Lionel Messi hopes that Argentina will reach another World Cup final, but admits he's focusing on the group stage first.

Forward Gonzalo Higuain will return to the Argentina squad for friendlies this month, but his Juventus teammate Paulo Dybala and Inter's Mauro Icardi were not called up.

Albiceleste manager Jorge Sampaoli also brought back Everton defender Ramiro Funes Mori and Chelsea goalkeeper Willy Caballero for the games against Italy and Spain.

Sampaoli released his list of foreign-based players for the March friendlies and said he will name the rest of the squad out of the local players in the upcoming days.

"The truth is that we have about 80 percent of our list made [for the World Cup]," Sampaoli told reporters in Buenos Aires. "The remaining 20 percent is the hard part."

Argentina face Italy in Manchester City's Etihad Stadium on March 23 and Spain four days later at the Metropolitano, Atletico Madrid's home stadium.

Higuain has just overcome a hamstring issue, while Dybala is injured and was not included. Icardi, captain of Inter's squad, did not make the cut after failing to score in his most recent call-ups with the Albiceleste.

"They are players that we have evaluated well, they are not going through ideal moments with their clubs," Sampaoli said. "We are very familiar with them and we would like to evaluate others for comparison. That does not mean that they won't be included in the final list."

Funes Mori and Manchester United's Marcos Rojo are both back after missing several months with injuries.

The initial squad:

Goalkeepers: Sergio Romero (Manchester United), Nahuel Guzman (Tigres), Willy Caballero (Chelsea)

Defenders: Federico Fazio (Roma), Ramiro Funes Mori (Everton), Marcos Rojo (Mancheter United), Gabriel Mercado (Sevilla), Nicolas Tagliafico (Ajax), Nicolas Otamendi (Manchester City)

Midfielders: Leandro Paredes (Zenit St Petersburg), Javier Mascherano (Hebei Fortune), Ever Banega (Sevilla), Giovani Lo Celso (Paris Saint-Germain), Manuel Lanzini (West Ham), Marcos Acuna (Sporting Lisbon), Lucas Biglia (AC Milan)

Forwards: Lionel Messi (Barcelona), Sergio Aguero (Manchester City), Angel Di Maria (Paris Saint-Germain), Gonzalo Higuain (Juventus), Diego Perotti (Roma)


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