Japan name World Cup squad; Arsenal's Takuma Asano among those cut
Takuma Asano of Arsenal and Leeds United's Yosuke Ideguchi were among the players cut as Japan confirmed their final 23-man squad for the 2018 World Cup.
Coach Akira Nishino opted for experience as young midfield duo Asano and Ideguchi, on loan to Stuttgart in Germany and Cultural Leonesa in Spain respectively, failed to make the final grade after being named in the preliminary list of 27 earlier in May.
Kenta Misao of Kashima Antlers was the third player to be dropped while Sanfrecce Hiroshima midfielder Toshihiro Aoyama withdrew through injury.
Veterans of the 2014 finals such as Shinji Kagawa, Keisuke Honda and Shinjo Okazaki were all selected.
"There are a lot of players who helped us get to Russia, a lot of players who are doing well at the moment, and a lot of players who are going to become great in the future," Nishino said. "And it's amongst all these circumstances that I have to select my squad."
"All three are incredibly promising and they contributed a lot to get us to this point. But in considering their top performance level I wasn't able to include them. I think they will carry Japan in the future."
Ideguchi, who signed for Leeds from Gamba Osaka in January, was the only one of the trio to take the field in Wednesday's 2-0 defeat against Ghana in Yokohama in Nishino's first game in charge after replacing Valid Halilhodzic, dismissed in April.
"Some things worked and some things didn't, and the things that didn't led to this result," Nishino said.
"I was able to try out a lot of things and I was able to look at a lot of players, but we were looking to win the game and the fact that we didn't is disappointing.
"As time went on things picked up, but we didn't start the game well. We weren't all on the same page."
The Samurai Blue have won just two of their last nine games and have now lost four in succession.
They now play two European friendlies against Switzerland and Paraguay before the team heads to Russia.
Japan kick off Group H with a June 19 clash against Colombia before taking on Senegal and Poland in a bid to reach the knockout stage for the third time in their sixth appearance at the World Cup.
Goalkeepers: Eiji Kawashima (Metz, France), Masaaki Higashiguchi (Gamba Osaka), Kosuke Nakamura (Kashiwa Reysol)
Defenders: Yuto Nagatomo (Galatasaray, Turkey), Tomoaki Makino (Urawa Reds), Maya Yoshida (Southampton, England), Hiroki Sakai (Marseille, France), Gotoku Sakai (Hamburger SV, Germany), Gen Shoji (Kashima Antlers), Wataru Endo (Urawa Reds), Naomichi Ueda (Kashima Antlers)
Midfielders: Makoto Hasebe (Frankfurt, Germany), Keisuke Honda (Pachuca, Mexico), Takashi Inui (Eibar, Spain), Shinji Kagawa (Dortmund, Germany), Hotaru Yamaguchi (Cerezo Osaka), Genki Haraguchi (Fortuna Dusseldorf, Germany), Takashi Usami (Fortuna Dusseldorf, Germany), Gaku Shibasaki (Getafe, Spain), Ryota Oshima (Kawasaki Frontale)
Forwards: Shinji Okazaki (Leicester, England), Yuya Osako (Werder Bremen, Germany), Yoshinori Muto (Mainz, Germany)
Asian expert John Duerden is the author of Lions and Tigers: Story of Football in Singapore and Malaysia.Twitter: @JohnnyDuerden.