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Tuesday, January 27, 2009
Messi wins first Argentina call-up under Maradona

Lionel Messi has been named in an Argentina squad by Diego Maradona for the first time.

The Barcelona winger was the most notable inclusion in the 20-man squad named for the February 11 friendly against France in Marseille.

Messi missed Maradona's first game in charge against Scotland last November because of a verbal agreement between Barcelona and the Argentina Football Association (AFA) that he would not play in friendly matches.

However, with the resumption of Argentina's World Cup qualification campaign looming the 21-year-old got clearance from Barca boss Pep Guardiola for that restriction to be lifted.

The deal had originally been put in place as an act of goodwill from the AFA after Barcelona allowed Messi to appear at the Beijing Olympics despite a Court of Arbitration of Sport ruling that they could justifiably deny him from doing so.

Veteran defender Walter Samuel will also make a return to the national team - more than two years since he last appeared for the Albicelestes in a friendly against Brazil in London.

The coach is expected to add home-based players in a few days.

Argentina squad: Juan Pablo Carrizo (Lazio), Sergio Romero (AZ Alkmaar); Javier Zanetti, Walter Samuel, Nicolas Burdisso (all Inter Milan), Martin Demichelis (Bayern Munich), Gabriel Heinze (Real Madrid), Daniel Diaz (Getafe); Javier Mascherano (Liverpool), Fernando Gago (Real Madrid), Maximiliano Rodriguez (Atletico Madrid), Jonas Gutierrez (Newcastle), Luis Gonzalez (Porto); Lionel Messi (Barcelona), Sergio Aguero (Atletico Madrid), Carlos Tevez (Manchester United), Ezequiel Lavezzi (Napoli), Lisandro Lopez (Porto), German Denis (Napoli), Angel Di Maria (Benfica).

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