Higuain not in Argentine squad for qualifiers

BUENOS AIRES: Juventus striker Gonzalo Higuain has been left out of the Argentina squad for upcoming World Cup qualifiers against Uruguay and Venezuela, the Argentine Football Association said on Friday.

Higuain, who has been capped 69 times and scored 31 international goals, has often failed to reproduce his club form for his country and his replacement in the squad will be Mauro Icardi, the Inter Milan player who made just one substitute appearance for the national side back in 2013.

Manchester City's Sergio Aguero was included again after missing the summer friendlies against Brazil and Singapore.

Javier Mascherano was listed as a defender on coach Jorge Sampaoli's list, although he usually appears in midfield for his club side Barcelona.

The 23 names were published on the Argentine FA web site and coach Sampaoli, who won his first two games in charge, is expected to add a few home-based players to the list.

The qualifiers away to Uruguay on Aug 31 and then at home to Venezuela five days later are crunch ones for Argentina, who have won the World Cup twice.

They currently sit in fifth place in the South American qualifying table, one place outside the automatic qualifying spots for Russia 2018.

The top four sides qualify automatically and the fifth-place team goes into a play-off with a team from Oceania.