Alan Franco, Franco Armani & Cristian Pavón add to Argentina’s injury problems as Guido Herrera gets call-up

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Lionel Scaloni continues his interim spell in charge of Argentina this week and ahead of the daunting prospect of facing Brazil the manager has been dealt the blow of five separate injuries to his Superliga contingent.

River Plate pair Gonzalo Martínez and Exequiel Palacios injured during the club’s recent victories over Boca Juniors and Independiente were joined this weekend by goalkeeper Franco Armani, Independiente defender Alan Franco fractured a metatarsal on Saturday and Boca forward Cristian Pavón withdrew from the squad after Sunday’s draw with Racing.

While the remaining squad members begin to arrive in Saudi Arabia ahead of the friendlies with Iraq and Brazil, Scaloni has called up only one replacement — Talleres goalkeeper Guido Herrera in place of Armani.

Few outside Argentina will be familiar with Herrera given the Talleres keeper plays outside one of the traditional powerhouses of Argentine football and was playing in the Torneo Federal A only three years ago. However, Herrera has proved himself as one of the Superliga’s top goalkeepers at La T, playing a key role in the club rapidly climbing the football pyramid to qualify for the Copa Libertadores last season.

Unable to find playing time with rivals Belgrano, Herrera left Córdoba for lower league outfit Defensores de Belgrano and it was there that Talleres manager Frank Kudelka took note. Bringing him back to Córdoba but now with Talleres, Herrera has helped the club in their meteoric rise and it was little surprise that when Boca were recently looking for a reliable option, La T’s number one was reportedly top of the list.

If there was any disappointment from that potential transfer never getting off the ground then Sunday would have more than made up for it for Herrera. If Talleres defeating Belgrano in the clásico wasn’t good enough, the call from Scaloni to replace Franco Armani in the Argentina squad was the icing on the cake.

“It’s an immense joy, the desire of every player, I have to enjoy it and take advantage of this opportunity,” Herrera said after being informed of his inclusion.

“It comes at a great time, and even more so after winning a clásico. I hope to make the most of it.”

Herrera’s joy is obviously in contrast to the disappointment for those who have been ruled out but with the Copa Libertadores semi finals only a couple of weeks away, River Plate and Boca Juniors were not in the mood to take risks.

Independiente’s Alan Franco faces several weeks out after fracturing a metatarsal during El Rojo’s win over Patronato and while Gonzalo Martínez and Exequiel Palacios suffered muscular injuries that caused both to miss games for River, it is perhaps more precautionary as to why Armani and Pavón have been withdrawn.

Armani played the full 90 minutes as River progressed to the Copa Argentina semi finals with victory over Sarmiento de Resistencia while Pavón too appeared to show no sign of clear injury during Boca’s draw away to Racing.

However, both are vital to their sides’ chances in the Copa Libertadores and with only two weeks until the first legs of the semi finals, neither side would want to risk losing their key figure.

Despite playing in the Superliga, at least four of the absent five would likely have played important roles under Scaloni with Armani, Martinez, Palacios and Pavón all previously impressing but Argentina will go ahead without them.

“The national team is very important, but the risk of injury to a player is also important. We were not going to do anything crazy, so we decided they should stay with their clubs,” Scaloni told the press from Saudi Arabia.

Argentina play Iraq on October 11th before facing Brazil on the 16th.

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