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Having been largely frozen out until now, Inter's star man makes provisional Argentina World Cup squad

Mauro Icardi has been in great form in Serie A.

Mauro Icardi (file pic).
Mauro Icardi (file pic).

MAURO ICARDI HAS been included in Argentina’s 35-man provisional squad for the 2018 World Cup.

The Inter star striker been in great form in Serie A this term but has largely been frozen out of the national team, making just four appearances since his 2013 debut.

However, Jorge Sampaoli was unable to neglect the 25-year-old when it came to putting together his initial squad for the tournament in Russia.

Icardi joins fellow Serie A star Paulo Dybala, captain Lionel Messi and the injured Sergio Aguero in Sampaoli’s plans.

Despite his 28-goal season in Serie A, Icardi is still expected to be cut from the team when Sampaoli narrows it down to 23.

The former Sevilla and Chile coach will name his final squad on May 13 in a press conference scheduled in Argentina’s Ezeiza training complex.

Both Icardi and Dybala have seen their chances of making the final World Cup squad cast into doubt since Sampaoli left them out of the group for the international friendlies in March.

It has been suggested Juventus star Dybala will be part of the 23-man party heading to Russia, despite his indifferent form in the latter part of the season, while Inter striker Icardi is not expected to be included.

A knee injury kept Aguero out of Manchester City’s last six games of the Premier League season, but it is expected he will be fully fit for the tournament.

Zenit midfielder Matias Kranevitter and Atletico Madrid forward Angel Correa have missed out on a place in the 35-man group, while there is predictably no sign of veteran Carlos Tevez.

Tevez’s Boca team-mates Cristian Pavon and Pablo Perez, however, do get a call, as Sampaoli includes five Argentine Superliga names in his shortlist.

Alongside the Xeneize pair is River Plate goalkeeper Franco Armani and Racing’s Lautaro Martinez and Ricardo Centurion.

Armani and Centurion are also among three uncapped players in the line-up, a list completed by Sporting midfielder Rodrigo Battaglia.

Argentina kick off their World Cup campaign in Group D on June 14, before facing Croatia and Nigeria in the battle to reach the knockout stages.

Argentina preliminary World Cup squad:

Goalkeepers: Sergio Romero, Nahuel Guzman, Willy Caballero, Franco Armani.

Defenders: Gabriel Mercado, Nicolás Otamendi, Federico Fazio, Nicolás Tagliafico, Marcos Rojo, Marcos Acuña, Ramiro Funes Mori, Cristian Ansaldi, Eduardo Salvio, Germán Pezzella.

Midfielders: Javier Mascherano, Ángel Di María, Ever Banega, Lucas Biglia, Manuel Lanzini, Gio Lo Celso, Ricardo Centurión, Guido Pizarro, Leandro Paredes, Maximiliano Meza, Enzo Pérez, Pablo Pérez, Rodrigo Battaglia.

Forwards: Lionel Messi, Sergio Agüero, Gonzalo Higuaín, Paulo Dybala, Mauro Icardi Cristian Pavón, Lautaro Martínez y Diego Perotti.

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