Ayala, not Moreno, replaces Mier in Mexico squad

Miguel Herrera is sticking with an entirely domestic-based team, calling in Hugo Ayala to replace the injured Hiram Mier instead of Espanyol star Hector Moreno.

Speculation was rife that Europe-based defender Hector Moreno would be called into Mexico’s squad to face New Zealand in the World Cup playoff after Monterrey center back Hiram Mier was injured this weekend, but coach Miguel Herrera has stuck by domestic players by calling in Tigres’ Hugo Ayala, Mexico’s federation confirmed Monday.

Mier pulled up with a knee injury against Veracruz, with Herrera telling ESPN that Los Rayados believe he has damaged his cruciate ligament and could be out for some time, although there is no confirmation yet.

Herrera added that calling in a Europe-based player to replace Olympic gold medal-winning Mier was an option he was considering, with Espanyol’s Moreno the obvious like-for-like replacement.

But the manager has stuck by his controversial choice to only select players based in Mexico, leaving the likes of Moreno, Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez and Giovani Dos Santos with their clubs over the upcoming international break. 

The 26-year-old Ayala has been a regular in Mexico’s squad over 2013, starting World Cup qualifiers under Victor Manuel Vucetich last month against Panama and Costa Rica.