Embattled Argentina coach Diego Maradona juggled his team for next month’s two critical World Cup qualifiers, dropping seven players and giving a first-time call up to Real Madrid striker Gonzalo Higuain.
Maradona also recalled midfielder Pablo Aimar to the squad.
The biggest shock was the dropping of seven players who were on the squad for losses last month to Brazil and Paraguay. The defeats have left Argentina out of the top four automatic qualifying places from South America for next year’s World Cup.
Two-time champions Argentina have not missed a World Cup since 1970, but are in danger now with Maradona being blamed from the team’s failure to qualify easily.
Gone from the team are: Fernando Gago, Javier Zanetti, Jesus Datolo, Maxiliano Rodriguez, Lisandro Lopez, Pablo Carrizo and Nicolas Burdisso.
Argentina plays at home on Oct. 10 against Peru, the worst of the 10 teams in the South American qualifying group. It wraps up qualifying a few days later at Uruguay.
Goalkeepers: Sergio Romero, Mariano Andujar. Defenders: Pablo Zabaleta, Nicolas Pareja, Fabricio Coloccini, Gabriel Heinze, Emiliano Insua. Midfielders: Javier Mascherano, Jonas Gutierrez, Angel Di Maria, Pablo Aimar, Luis Gonzalez. Forwards: Lionel Messi, Gonzalo Higuain, Diego Milito, Ezequiel Lavezzi, Sergio Aguero, Carlos Tevez.