Marquez closer to 5th World Cup after making preliminary Mexico squad

Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

MEXICO CITY (AP) Defender Rafael Marquez could play in a fifth World Cup after he was picked in Mexico’s 28-player preliminary squad on Monday.

Midfielder Andres Guardado, however, one of the three captains, will go through surgery this week and is a doubt for the team.

If 39-year-old Marquez makes the final 23-man list, he will join countryman Antonio Carvajal, Lothar Matthaeus of Germany and Gianluigi Buffon of Italy as the only players to be in five World Cups.

Mexico will announce its final squad on June 4.

“We believe there is room for Rafael to help,” coach Juan Carlos Osorio said. “There is a mental part, in which experience and leadership allows playing in tough moments of world-class matches, and doing it with the same ease, leadership and criteria that only Rafa could.”

Marquez was Mexico’s captain in the last four World Cups and is expected to retire after Russia. He hasn’t played for the national team since the Confederations Cup last year.

Guardado, who shares Mexico’s captaincy when goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa or Marquez is absent, will have surgery on Wednesday. Osorio said he expects to count on the Real Betis player for the World Cup.

Osorio said Erick Gutierrez could be Guardado’s replacement. The Pachuca midfielder did not take part in World Cup qualifying, and did not play in the Confederations Cup either.

“Erick is a natural box-to-box midfielder who is a lefty, like Andres (Guardado). We think he will be his replacement in the future,” Osorio said.

Osorio also said four players have injuries, and that forced him to pick 28. The other players in doubt were Nestor Araujo, Reyes, and siblings Jonathan and Giovani Dos Santos.

“I am not a medical specialist, but if the World Cup began tomorrow those five could not be in it,” then coach said.

A noted absence in the squad was striker Rodolfo Pizarro, who was in great form with local giant Chivas.