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Mexico ready for 2017 opener

Mexico
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Gio dos Santos backs Carlos Vela return

Villarreal forward Giovani dos Santos said Tuesday that as the World Cup nears, he would like to see the end of international exile for his fellow Mexico teammate Carlos Vela.

Giovani dos Santos backs the return of Carlos Vela to El Tri.

Vela, who scored four times for Real Sociedad in Saturday’s 4-3 La Liga win over Celta Vigo, has not played for El Tri since 2011. His relationship with former coach Jose Manuel "Chepo" de la Torre broke down after the then Arsenal striker was banned for throwing a party while on international duty.

Dos Santos -- who was fined for his involvement in that incident but continued to play for his country -- told Marca that he hoped the issues could be sorted out now, with Brazil 2014 looming on the horizon.

"It is a difficult subject, which is between Vela and the federation," the Villarreal attacker said. "I do not know his motives. What I do know is that he is a great player who could bring many things to the national team."

Miguel "El Piojo" Herrera, who led Mexico into World Cup qualifying last week, said the door is open for Vela. Mexico is expected to make a decision about Herrera's continued tenure as El Tri coach on Dec. 2.

"I see a great opportunity but it is Vela who doesn't want to join us," Herrera said Monday. "If I am named coach I will analyze this and seek him out. We are hopeful he will change his mind. He has had a great past year and a half."

There were reports that Vela, 24, was set to return for Mexico as they struggled to qualify for next summer's finals in recent months, however he was not picked by any of the three coaches (De la Torre, Victor Manuel Vucetich and Herrera). Last week, Mexico earned its berth at Brazil after defeating New Zealand in an interncontinental playoff.

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