BUENOS AIRES (AP) — Having fully recovered from a groin injury, Barcelona star Lionel Messi was named on Friday in Argentina’s squad to face Brazil and Colombia in the next round of World Cup qualifiers.
Messi has been in fine form for Barcelona since coming back from his latest niggling injury, scoring four goals in two matches, including a superb hat trick against Manchester City in the Champions League on Wednesday.
He has not played for his country since scoring the winner in a 1-0 win against Uruguay on Sept. 1.
In his absence, Argentina drew 2-2 away to Peru and lost 1-0 at home to Paraguay, putting it in fifth place and out of the top four positions that ensure a direct spot for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
Messi’s return will be in Belo Horizonte against leaders Brazil, which has won its four first matches under new coach Tite.
Five days later, Edgardo Bauza’s Argentina side hosts fourth-place Colombia.
Goalkeepers: Nahuel Guzman, (Tigres), Sergio Romero (Manchester United), Geronimo Rulli, (Real Sociedad).
Defenders: Martin Demichelis (Espanyol), Mateso Musacchio (Villarreal), Nicolas Otamendi (Manchester City), Ramiro Funes Mori (Everton), Gabriel Mercado, (Sevilla), Facundo Roncaglia (Celta Vigo), Emanuel Mas (San Lorenzo), Pablo Zabaleta, (Manchester City).
Midfielders: Javier Mascherano (Barcelona), Guido Pizarro (Tigres), Lucas Biglia (Lazio), Ever Banega (Inter Milan), Enzo Perez (Valencia), Nicolas Gaitan (Atletico Madrid), Angel Di Maria (Paris Saint-Germain), Julio Buffarini (Sao Paulo), Marcos Acuna (Racing Club).
Strikers: Angel Correa (Atletico Madrid), Lionel Messi (Barcelona), Gonzalo Higuain (Juventus), Paulo Dybala (Juventus), Sergio Aguero (Manchester City), Lucas Pratto (Atletico Mineiro).