Sanchez named in Chile squad for World Cup games

SANTIAGO:  Chile have included Arsenal striker Alexis Sanchez in their squad for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers against Paraguay and Bolivia, coach Juan Antonio Pizzi said on Thursday.

Sanchez has yet to play for his English Premier League club Arsenal this season after straining an abdominal muscle.

He missed the Community Shield victory over Chelsea in the season curtain-raiser plus the league opener with Leicester City and is expected to be out of Saturday's trip to Stoke City.

Sanchez was one of 19 overseas players named in Pizzi's squad, which will be boosted by home-based players.

Earlier on Thursday, Sanchez was named as one of the 24 players in contention for the Best FIFA Men's Player award along with Chile team mate Arturo Vidal.

Chile host Paraguay on Aug. 31 and face Bolivia in La Paz five days later. They are fourth in the standings for the South American qualifying spots for the 2018 tournament in Russia, one point ahead of Argentina and two clear of Ecuador.

The top four qualify automatically for the finals, while the fifth-placed side go into a playoff with a team from Oceania.

Goalkeepers: Claudio Bravo (Manchester City)

Defenders: Mauricio Isla (Fenerbahce), Enzo Roco (Cruz Azul), Eugenio Mena (Sport Recife), Paulo Diaz (San Lorenzo), Gary Medel (Besiktas), Osvaldo Gonzalez (Toluca).

Midfielders: Francisco Silva (Cruz Azul), Charles Aranguiz (Bayer Leverkusen), Felipe Gutierrez (Internacional), Arturo Vidal (Bayern Munich), Pedro Pablo Hernandez (Celta de Vigo), Marcelo Diaz (Celta de Vigo), Leonardo Valencia (Botafogo).

Forwards: Alexis Sanchez (Arsenal), Eduardo Vargas (Tigres), Nicolas Castillo (Pumas UNAM), Edson Puch (Pachuca), Fabian Orellana (Valencia) (Writing by Andrew Downie, Reporting by Felipe Iturrieta; editing by Ken Ferris)