Injured Messi called up to Argentina squad

Despite being sidelined with a hamstring problem, the four-time Ballon d'Or winner has been named in Alejandro Sabella's 23-man squad for June's World Cup qualifiers
Barcelona forward Lionel Messi has been called up to Argentina's latest World Cup qualifiers squad despite being out injured.

La Albiceleste host Colombia on June 7 then travel to play Ecuador four days later in their latest CONMEBOL group games ahead of next summer's World Cup in Brazil, before visiting Guatemala for a friendly on June 14.

Messi is among the star Argentines to be called up, though it remains doubtful as to whether he will pull out due to fitness concerns as he continues to nurse a hamstring problem which has seen him miss much of May's action and might not see him return in time for Barca's final Liga game against Malaga.

Should Messi withdraw from Alejandro Sabella's 23-man squad for the June triple header then Argentina will not be without first-class replacements. Real Madrid star Gonzalo Higuain, Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero and Paris Saint-Germain attacker Ezequiel Lavezzi have all been named.

Newcastle United skipper Fabricio Coloccini has been recalled having missed out on the last squad while Lucas Biglia is named for the first time since last September.

Conspicuous absentees include former Liverpool midfielder Maxi Rodriguez and Benfica forward Nicolas Guitan, though the latter's teammate Ezequiel Garay has been included in the squad.

Argentina is currently top of the South American qualification for the World Cup with 11 games played and seven to go, with Ecuador in second, Colombia third and Chile fourth.

Venezuela continues to surprise in fifth, ahead of Copa America champion and World Cup 2010 semifinalist Uruguay.