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 By Tom Marshall

Mexico may recall naturalized players - Juan Carlos Osorio

Mexico head coach Juan Carlos Osorio said he is considering calling up naturalized players for the friendly against Senegal on Feb. 10 in Miami.

"Within the structure we currently have, with three players for each position, there are some [naturalized players]," Osorio said upon return from a tour of the United States friendly.

The Colombia native also said he has not finalized his picks for the upcoming friendly.

"I don't know and I can't promise [that I will be calling up naturalized players this time], but I can say we will consider them for the next time," Osorio stated, adding that he saw nothing negative regarding the subject. "Those are the rules and I will not be the one who is going to prevent someone who is dreaming of playing for a national team as important as Mexico from reaching his goal."

The reality is that there aren't many naturalized players who have not played for their country of birth and fulfill FIFA's five-year residency requirement, but the issue remains a divisive one in Mexico.

Queretaro striker Emanuel Villa and Tigres center-back Juninho are perhaps the most likely possibilities to be included in future squads, although they are both 33-years-old.

The number of naturalized players in the Liga MX has risen significantly since a rule change for the Apertura 2014 allowed naturalized Mexicans to play as domestic players as soon as they gained citizenship, which takes just two years for South Americans. Previously, they had to complete five years in the country to count.

That has sparked a fierce debate about reducing the number of foreign-born players in the Liga MX in order to open space for young Mexicans to get more playing time.

Pumas playmaker Daniel Luduena -- himself a naturalized Mexican -- blew the debate wide open last week when he suggested that many Liga MX teams don't take their youth teams seriously enough and that younger players have a tendency to "lack hunger."

Mexico's Under-23 Olympic squad responded in a collective statement slamming the Argentine and stressing their recent success at youth level.

As well as naturalized players, Osorio opened the door to a return to the national team squad for LA Galaxy's Giovani dos Santos.

"Yes, it is on my agenda to talk with him [Dos Santos] about his situation and obviously ask him to keeping training because it is difficult to be ready as a player in MLS with the vacation period, if a player isn't willing to train hard of his own accord," said Osorio. "I hope he does it and we can call him up, as much for him and for the good of Mexican football."

Osorio also indicated that Atlas defender Rafa Marquez is still under consideration for the national team and added that it will be up to Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez and Bayer Leverkusen whether the striker plays for El Tri at the Copa America or Olympics this summer.


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