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Franco Di Santo, Gabriel Mercado, Lisandro Lopez and Fabian Rinaudo were all removed from the 30-man provisional squad ahead of the summer's tournament

Argentina coach Alejandro Sabella has cut four players from his provisional squad for next month's World Cup.

Sabella named a 30-man group eight days ago, but has now trimmed that to 26 as they step up preparations for the finals in Brazil.

Defenders Gabriel Mercado of River Plate and Lisandro Lopez, who spent this season on loan at Getafe from Benfica, have been omitted from the squad, as has midfielder Fabian Rinaudo, who suffered relegation from Serie A with Catania after being loaned from Sporting Lisbon.

Further forward, Werder Bremen's Franco Di Santo, a surprise inclusion in the initial group, has also seen his hopes of featuring at the tournament come to an end.

A further three players will need to be withdrawn from the squad by June 2 ahead of the tournament, which begins 10 days later.

Argentina are second favourites to win the World Cup behind hosts Brazil, and are seeking to win the trophy for a third time.

Sabella's side start their campaign on June 15 against Bosnia-Herzegovina at the Maracana - the venue for the final - in Rio de Janeiro before encounters with other Group F rivals Iran and Nigeria.

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