Argentina coach Jose Pekerman is confident that defender Gabriel Heinze and forward Lionel Messi will recover from knee and thigh injuries respectively to make his World Cup squad.
“Heinze and Messi should both be on the list as it looks like they will be fully fit ready for the World Cup,” Pekerman told a news conference in Madrid.
Heinze returned recently to action for Manchester United after seven months out following knee surgery, while Barcelona forward Messi is recovering from a thigh injury that has kept him out since March 7.
“Heinze’s knee has recovered perfectly and he is now suffering muscle pains that are perfectly normal as he is back in full-time training after an injury. We are keeping a close eye on him.”
Pekerman said that despite his youth Messi had done enough to earn a place in the squad.
“It is actions not age that count and the way he has emerged this season has been extraordinary. He has done very well and handled himself very well,” said Pekerman.
“In a difficult game like Barcelona against Chelsea (in the Champions League) he was a decisive player.”
Pekerman refused to comment on the rest of his squad, in particular on whether or not Valencia playmaker Pablo Aimar would make the final squad.
“Nothing special has kept him (Aimar) out of this meeting,” said Pekerman. “There are a lot of players in the same position as him. You will have to wait until May 15 for the definitive list.
“Our big concern is making sure the players are in top physical as well as technical form and there will be doubts right up until the last minute because of the fact that the domestic leagues last so long.
“We want to make sure the players arrive in perfect form. This is especially important in the World Cup when you play so many games close together.”
Pekerman said he was looking forward to the challenge ahead.
“Personally I will be trying to expose the team to everything that I have learned in the past,” he said.
“I want to help them demonstrate that Argentina will always compete in the World Cup and that we will always have big aspirations.
“We want to be one of the teams that are battling away to win the trophy.”
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