Buenos Aires, March 11 (IANS) Barcelona star Lionel Messi has been named in Argentina’s preliminary 23-man squad for their opening 2022 World Cup qualifiers against Ecuador and Bolivia.

The 32-year-old leads an attack that also includes Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero, Juventus forward Paulo Dybala and Inter Milan’s Lautaro Martinez, reports Xinhua news agency.

The Albiceleste will play Ecuador in Buenos Aires on March 26 and Bolivia in La Paz five days later as part of the South American zone qualifying tournament. Messi will miss the first match because of suspension.

Head coach Lionel Scaloni called up five Italy-based players despite the country’s emergency coronavirus measures, which include travel restrictions and a ban on public gatherings.

All sport in Italy — including the Serie A — has been suspended until at least April 3 as local authorities attempt to combat the virus.

Scaloni is expected to add at least two Argentina-based players to the squad over the next fortnight.

Argentina squad:

Goalkeepers: Juan Musso

Defenders: Nehuen Perez, Nicolas Otamendi, Renzo Saravia, German Pezzella, Nicolas Tagliafico, Leonardo Balerdi

Midfielders: Guido Rodriguez, Exequiel Palacios, Roberto Pereyra, Rodrigo De Paul, Marcos Acuna, Leandro Paredes, Nicolas Dominguez, Giovani Lo Celso, Alexis Mac Allister

Forwards: Lionel Messi, Sergio Aguero, Lucas Ocampos, Lucas Alario, Nicolas Gonzalez, Paulo Dybala and Lautaro Martinez.

–IANS

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