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ESPN FC  By ESPN staff

Argentina coach Edgardo Bauza backs Gonzalo Higuain and Mauro Icardi

Edgardo Bauza has said that Gonzalo Higuain has his backing to be the starting No. 9 for Argentina against Chile in CONMEBOL World Cup qualifying.

"I am very happy to have so many options. But for the moment, I would pick Higuain as my starter and [Atletico Mineiro forward Lucas] Pratto, who has adapted very well and done the job every time he has been called in. But the rest must also know that I am watching them and they have a chance. It should be the incentive for all of them to keep working hard."

Bauza said he plans to be on hand for the derby on Sunday between Juventus and Inter. Juventus currently hold a four-point lead over second-placed Roma while Inter have won their last eight Serie A games.

Despite a prolific scoring record with Inter, Icardi has played just seven minutes of football for Argentina -- and that was back in 2013.

"Tomorrow we are going to Turin to meet with Higuain and Dybala," Bauza said of the derby. "The debate is over how well they are both playing  [Higuain and Icardi]. Inter have also improved. It will be a good match."

Bauza said he watched Icardi training and hinted that the 23-year-old could be called up.

"Icardi knows that we are watching him and that he is playing well at this moment and that he could be called up at any time," Bauza said. 

Many believe that Icardi's absence from Argentina is over his row with Maxi Lopez.

About the Icardi-Bauza meeting, Diego Maradona on Friday said: "If Bauza met with Icardi, he [Bauza] is also a traitor."

Bauza said that the trip meant nothing definitive for the Argentina squad. 

"This is just something that I had to do," he said. "I wanted to see how everyone is playing, to see how they are doing at their clubs and to speak with their coaches."

Regarding Argentina forward Lionel Messi, Bauza said the team was more than one star.

"Argentina won two World Cups and both times they had an player who was an imposing figure," Bauza said. "But the players alongside him were also important. Messi is super important. He plays a key role, but the rest of the team also counts."

Messi has been named the world's best player a record five times, while winning eight La Liga and four Champions League titles with Barcelona in his trophy-filled career.

But his failures at the international level have left him open to critics despite leading Argentina to the final game of the 2014 World Cup and consecutive Copa America finals over the past three summers.

"Next week we are travelling to Barcelona and Madrid. We are going to speak with our players there. I want to meet with [Diego Simeone] and his players. And Messi and Mascherano. 

"After that we will travel to Manchester and to London where we plan to watch matches there and finish our trip in Paris."

About Sergio Aguero's current worries over losing his starting role to Brazilian star Gabriel Jesus, Bauza said it was all part of football.

"What is happening to Kun is what has happened to the club, who are not turning in an excellent performance," Bauza said. "But he continues to be an important player. I am looking forward to the chance to speak with him."

Aguero, who has 18 goals from 25 appearances for City this season, was a substitute for the 4-0 victory over West Ham United on Wednesday night.

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