Injured Gago still in Argentina's World Cup plans: Sampaoli

Mar 09, 2018, 17:06 IST | IANS

Argentina football coach Jorge Sampaoli has left open the possibility of taking Fernando Gago to this year's World Cup in Russia, despite the midfielder's latest injury setback

Sampaoli
Jorge Sampaoli

Argentina football coach Jorge Sampaoli has left open the possibility of taking Fernando Gago to this year's World Cup in Russia, despite the midfielder's latest injury setback.

Gago suffered partial detachment of graft tissue in his right knee earlier this week, just days after returning to training following surgery last October to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament, reports Xinhua news agency.

"I spoke with Fernando yesterday. He continues to want to be [at the World Cup] and he is fighting for that to happen," Sampaoli told a press conference on Thursday.

"I always stress the value that Gago has and that's why we are going to wait until the last moment."

Gago's career has been beset by a series of soft-tissue leg injuries. In addition to knee problems, the 31-year-old Boca Juniors star spent almost a full year on the sidelines in 2015 and 2016 after twice rupturing his left Achilles tendon.

Sampaoli said the former Real Madrid, Roma and Valencia player asked to remain in Argentina's World Cup plans.

"Despite the setback, he is optimistic and he told me to wait to evaluate him," the former Chile and Sevilla manager said.

"When a player of his footballing ability calls it makes a coach happy. We are going to see how he is and compare him with everybody else."

Sampaoli will have a chance to appraise his squad ahead of the World Cup when Argentina meet Italy in Manchester on March 23 followed by another friendly against Spain in Madrid four days later.

Argentina will begin their 2018 World Cup campaign against Iceland on June 16.

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