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Simeone earns Argentina call-up for friendlies

BUENOS AIRES, March 9 (Xinhua) -- Napoli forward Giovanni Simeone has been drafted into Argentina's squad for friendlies against Panama and Curacao, the Argentine Football Association said on Thursday.

The 27-year-old, who has been capped five times for the Albiceleste, had been absent from manager Lionel Scaloni's initial 35-man list for the matches in Argentina later this month.

The squad is led by talismanic forward Lionel Messi and also includes Chelsea midfielder Enzo Fernandez, Manchester City forward Julian Alvarez and Atletico Madrid midfielder Rodrigo De Paul.

The Albiceleste will meet Panama in Buenos Aires on March 23 and Curacao in Santiago del Estero five days later, the entity said in a statement.

The fixtures will mark Argentina's return to the pitch for the first time since their World Cup final victory over France in Qatar last year.

Argentina squad:

Goalkeepers: Franco Armani (River), Geronimo Rulli (Ajax) and Emiliano Martinez (Aston Villa).

Defenders: Juan Foyth (Villarreal), Gonzalo Montiel (Sevilla), Nahuel Molina (Atletico Madrid), Nehuen Perez (Udinese), German Pezzella (Real Betis), Cristian Romero (Tottenham), Nicolas Otamendi (Benfica), Lisandro Martinez (Manchester United), Nicolas Tagliafico (Olympique Lyon), Marcos Acuna (Sevilla) and Lautaro Blanco (Elche).

Midfielders: Leandro Paredes (Juventus), Guido Rodriguez (Real Betis), Enzo Fernandez (Chelsea), Maximiliano Perrone (Manchester City), Exequiel Palacios (Bayer Leverkusen), Rodrigo De Paul (Atletico de Madrid), Facundo Buonanotte (Brighton & Hove Albion), Thiago Almada (Atlanta United), Giovani Lo Celso (Villarreal), Alexis Mac Allister (Brighton & Hove Albion), Angel Di Maria (Juventus), Angel Correa (Atletico de Madrid), Emiliano Buendia (Aston Villa) and Valentin Carboni (Inter).

Forwards: Lionel Messi (PSG), Paulo Dybala (Roma), Lautaro Martinez (Inter), Julian Alvarez (Manchester City), Alejandro Garnacho (Manchester United), Nicolas Gonzalez (Fiorentina), Alejandro Gomez (Sevilla) and Giovanni Simeone (Napoli).