Lionel Messi will play for Argentina again, according to interim coach Lionel Scaloni.
Lionel Messi continued absence dominated the build-up to Saturday’s friendly with Mexico.
The Barcelona forward has not played for Argentina since the World Cup, but there is a clamour for him to return in time for next summer’s Copa America.
Scaloni told a media conference: “I did not talk to Messi about that.
“We discussed football, but we do not touch on issues that have to do with something that will happen in so many months.
“I estimate, wish and believe that he will return to the national team.”
Scaloni named his starting XI for the first of two matches with Mexico in four days, with the only doubt over Tottenham defender Juan Foyth.
Inter Milan striker Mauro Icardi is expected to play in the second game.
“We had a setback: Juan suffered a cut in training and we have to wait to see if he can play,” Scaloni added.
The line-up for the game at Estadio Mario Alberto Kempes in Cordoba is: Agustin Marchesin; Renzo Saravia, Foyth – or Gabriel Mercado – Ramiro Funes Mori, Nicolas Tagliafico; Angel Correa, Giovani Lo Celso, Leandro Paredes, Marcos Acuna; Paulo Dybala and Lautaro Martinez.
It will be Scaloni’s fifth game as boss, after wins over Guatemala and Iraq, a goalless draw with Colombia and loss to Brazil.
Scaloni insists the performance against Brazil showed there is life after Messi.
“Before the match against Brazil they said that the result was important and I thought more about something else,” Scaloni added.
“Luckily, there were players who showed they could play. When these six games are over there will be a range (of players) to choose from.
“I do not know who said there is nothing (to choose from), they were wrong. There are players.
“That generation has given a lot to the national team, played three finals and deserve just recognition.
“On the side of the under-20s we can say that there is good material.”