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Lavezzi returns to Argentina squad after Dybala injury

Argentina's Ezequiel Lavezzi (C) gestures next to teammates Javier Mascherano (R) and Lucas Biglia during a training session ahead of their 2018 World Cup qualifying soccer match against Brazil in Buenos Aires, Argentina, November 9, 2015. REUTERS/Marcos Brindicci/Files
Argentina's Ezequiel Lavezzi (C) gestures next to teammates Javier Mascherano (R) and Lucas Biglia during a training session ahead of their 2018 World Cup qualifying soccer match against Brazil in Buenos Aires, Argentina, November 9, 2015. REUTERS/Marcos Brindicci/Files

BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) - Argentina have recalled forward Ezequiel Lavezzi for next month’s South American World Cup qualifiers against Brazil and Colombia despite him not playing since June.

Lavezzi, who plays in China for Hebei Fortune, has recovered from a broken elbow, and was drafted into coach Edgardo Bauza’s squad on Wednesday, along with San Lorenzo’s Fernando Belluschi, after Juventus forward Paulo Dybala was injured at the weekend.

“New tests carried out on Paulo Dybala at Juventus confirm a tear of his femoral biceps. The recovery time recommended by the club is 30 days,” the Argentine FA said on its website (www.afa.org.ar).

The pair are part of a 27-man squad for Argentina’s qualifiers away to arch-rivals Brazil on Nov. 10 and at home against Colombia five days later.

“Due to the Cordoba player’s (Dybala) withdrawal, Fernando Belluschi and Ezequiel Lavezzi have been added to the ‘albiceleste’ squad,” the AFA said.

Lavezzi, who played in the 2014 World Cup final against Germany in Brazil, last turned out for Argentina in the 2016 Copa America in June when he fractured his left elbow during the 4-0 semi-final win over hosts the United States.

He has been recovering in Argentina and training at the AFA's facilities under the watchful eye of Bauza.

Former Newell’s Old Boys, Porto and Bursaspor midfielder Belluschi, 33, has earned his first call-up since 2008 thanks to his fine form in the Argentine first division championship with San Lorenzo.

Argentina are fifth in the South American group with 16 points from 10 matches, five less than leaders Brazil with Uruguay second on 20 and Ecuador and Colombia on 17.

The top four go through to the 2018 finals in Russia with the fifth-placed side qualifying for an intercontinental playoff.

(Reporting by Luis Ampuero; Writing by Rex Gowar; Editing by Toby Davis)

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