Football: Aguero will risk injury for Messi-less Argentina

Argentina striker Sergio Aguero insists he is available for selection against Paraguay today even though he is not fully fit.
Argentina striker Sergio Aguero insists he is available for selection against Paraguay today even though he is not fully fit.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

CORDOBA (Argentina) • Sergio Aguero will risk his fitness by playing for Argentina despite admitting he ruled himself out of several Manchester City games after previously taking a similar gamble.

City host Everton on Saturday with City manager Pep Guardiola intent on ensuring they bounce back after the 2-0 defeat by Tottenham Hotspur in their last English Premier League outing.

The Spaniard has been clear that all of his players need to recover and prepare properly to cope with the demands of elite football to minimise the risk of injuries. Yet, despite being taken off injured in Argentina's 2-2 draw against Peru last Saturday, Aguero has been cleared for the World Cup qualifier against Paraguay in Cordoba today.

"I'm better, we did tests and I'm trying to get as fit as possible. Edgardo Bauza (Argentina coach) will make the decision but I'll be available," he said.

"When you're at the national team, you always want to take part. But the last time, I ended up injured against Ecuador in October last year.

"Sometimes you think, 'Why didn't I stop?' Even though I missed six or seven games for City but when they call you for the national team, you want to play at any cost. That's how it is."

Bauza will hope that Aguero is fit enough for the Paraguay clash, after Lionel Messi's injury and suspensions of his defenders have created some serious thinking about Argentina's line-up.

Atletico Madrid midfielder Nicolas Gaitan will likely stand in for Messi on the right side of the attack in place of Juventus forward Paulo Dybala, as Bauza seeks better balance in his team.

"Gaitan covers more ground," Bauza told a news conference in Cordoba on Monday.

"Dybala was not able to show his full potential playing on the right... Nico can help with the ball winning and is aggressive going forward.

Bauza has more concerns with his defenders, with Manchester City duo Nicolas Otamendi and Pablo Zabaleta and Everton's Ramiro Funes Mori all suspended, leaving only Manchester United's Marcos Rojo in a revamped back line.

Martin Demichelis will play in central defence.

Argentina had led the South American group following their 1-0 win over Uruguay on Sept 1 until Messi's injury.

They are now fifth, with the top four qualifying for Russia while the fifth-placed team face an intercontinental play-off.

THE GUARDIAN, REUTERS

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 12, 2016, with the headline 'Aguero will risk injury for Messi-less Argentina'. Print Edition | Subscribe