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Gonzalo Higuain could still make the World Cup, insists Argentina boss Sampaoli

Gonzalo Higuain could still make the World Cup, insists Argentina boss Sampaoli
By PA Sport

10/11/2017 at 21:07Updated 10/11/2017 at 21:11

Argentina head coach Jorge Sampaoli insists Gonzalo Higuain could still figure in his World Cup plans despite leaving him out of his squad for Saturday's friendly in Russia.

Higuain has been in good form for Juventus, scoring nine goals in his last 17 appearances, but the striker played no part in Argentina's final four World Cup qualifiers and has been overlooked again.

"Higuain is doing very well for his club," Sampaoli told press conference attended by Argentinian newspaper La Noticia before Saturday's game at the newly refurbished Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow.

"In the qualifiers the presence of Higuain, being a top centre-forward, was not ideal for him nor for the national team.

"We will follow him and hopefully there will be some possibility of summoning him (in the future)."

Despite the absence of the injured Sergio Aguero when Argentina finally booked their place at the World Cup finals with a 3-1 win in Ecuador, Sampaoli opted for Mauro Icardi and Dario Benedetto as his strikers.

"We have to find the Argentinian style, the one that identified us, (the one) in which I grew up," Sampaoli added.

"We have to find our own and particular identity related to the players we have and the attack."

Sampaoli confirmed Inter Milan striker Icardi will play no part in Moscow due to injury, while Manchester City's Aguero is expected to return to the starting line-up against Russia.

La Albiceleste will look to put their troubled qualifying campaign behind them after scraping through their South American qualifiers, courtesy of Lionel Messi's hat-trick in Ecuador.

Sampaoli said it was time to look forward and that preparation for next summer's finals was already under way.

"The idea is to have three players for each position by the time we get to March and then decide on two per position, plus three strikers," he added.

"After March it will be clear, unless some unpredictable thing happens, what the final list for the World Cup will be."

Russia, eliminated from Euro 2016 at the group stage after two defeats and a draw, have drawn their last two friendly matches - 1-1 with Chile in June and 3-3 with Belgium in March.