Argentina cautious with Martinez

Thursday 07 September 2023 12:30

Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni has suggested he will not select Manchester United defender Lisandro Martinez for the World Cup qualifier with Ecuador.

The South Americans open their defence of the trophy with a home game in the early hours of Friday morning (UK time), in advance of the 2026 tournament in Canada, Mexico and the United States.

There are six automatic places at the showpiece event up for grabs in the continent's section and Scaloni remains in charge after guiding the nation to their triumph in Qatar.

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Martinez was one of United's outstanding performers at Arsenal before being forced off in the 67th minute, when experiencing discomfort in his foot, as Harry Maguire took his place.

Reds manager Erik ten Hag said he was not sure if it was an injury, following the match, and the centre-back linked up with his country as planned.

"Licha, as you know, had an issue with his feet," Scaloni said, ahead of the Ecuador clash. "In the last game [at Arsenal], he was in pain and went out for precaution. They have done studies and he's well.

"We'll evaluate whether to use him or not," admitted the former West Ham United defender. "At first, for tomorrow's match, it'd be a little rushed. We'll see for the second match."

The next fixture is a trip to Bolivia on Tuesday, representing a first game on the road for Argentina in the South American section.

Alejandro Garnacho is also in the squad and can look to further his reputation by showing his skills on the big stage. Local reports suggest the Reds youngster is likely to be on the bench against Ecuador.