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Lionel Messi on Argentina roster to play Sweden

Photo: Carlos M. Saavedra/SI

Lionel Messi and Argentina lead CONMEBOL World Cup qualifying with Brazil having an automatic spot.

Ever Banega has been recalled to the Argentina squad for next month's friendly against Sweden, with the Valencia midfielder named for the first time since October 2011 after a freak car accident sidelined him for six months.

Banega has not played for Argentina since the shock 1-0 away loss to Venezuela in a World Cup qualifier, having suffered the injury last February when his car rolled onto his leg as he was filling up with fuel.

Paris St Germain winger Ezequiel Lavezzi returns to a 23-man squad named by coach Alejandro Sabella on Tuesday for the Feb. 6 match in Solna after missing the last two qualifiers, victories over Uruguay and Chile in October that kept Argentina top of the South American group.

Defender Cristian Ansaldi, who won one cap under each of Sabella's predecessors Diego Maradona and Sergio Batista, gets another chance thanks to his fine form in the Russian league with Rubin Kazan.

Midfield creator Walter Montillo, who has joined Santos from Cruzeiro in the Brazilian league, is the only non-European based player in the squad having won his second cap in a 2-1 win over Brazil in November.

Wigan Athletic striker Franco Di Santo was chosen again after making his debut as a substitute in the 0-0 draw against Saudi Arabia that closed a good 2012 for Argentina.

Sabella's team played 11 matches last year, winning eight and losing one away to Brazil in the first of two friendlies between teams chosen only from domestic leagues.

Squad:

Goalkeepers: Sergio Romero (Sampdoria), Mariano Andujar (Catania), Cristian Alvarez (Espanyol)

Defenders: Hugo Campagnaro, Federico Fernandez (both Napoli), Fabricio Coloccini (Newcastle United), Pablo Zabaleta (Manchester City), Ezequiel Garay (Benfica), Cristian Ansaldi (Rubin Kazan)

Midfielders: Javier Mascherano (Barcelona), Fernando Gago, Ever Banega (both Valencia), Enzo Perez (Benfica), Angel Di Maria (Real Madrid), Augusto Fernandez (Celta Vigo), Fabian Rinaudo (Sporting Lisbon), Walter Montillo (Santos)

Forwards: Sergio Aguero (Manchester City), Lionel Messi (Barcelona), Gonzalo Higuain (Real Madrid), Franco Di Santo (Wigan Athletic), Nicolas Gaitan (Benfica), Ezequiel Lavezzi (Paris St Germain)

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