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Over-used Mertesacker in need of rest

By ESPN Staff

Argentina recall Zanetti, name two newcomers

BUENOS AIRES, Jan 23 (Reuters) - Argentina defender Javier Zanetti, surprisingly left out of the World Cup squad last year, was recalled on Tuesday for next month's friendly international away to France.

Coach Alfio Basile also named two uncapped players, including Real Madrid's recently-signed defensive midfielder Fernando Gago, in his attempt to break his duck in his second stint in charge of the team.

Argentina face the French in Paris on Feb. 7 in their third match under Basile, who replaced Jose Pekerman following the World Cup.

Their previous outings ended in a 3-0 defeat to Brazil and a 2-1 loss to Spain, both in friendlies.

The gravel-voiced coach was previously in charge for a three-year spell which ended at the 1994 World Cup in the United States.

Zanetti, 33, won the last of his 102 caps in a 3-2 defeat by England in a friendly in November 2005 before falling victim to Pekerman's decision to revamp his squad with younger players for the World Cup.

Gago received his first call up one month after joining Real from Boca Juniors.

Midfielder Jonas Gutierrez, who plays for Real Mallorca, was also given a chance to win a first cap.

There was a rare call-up for Villarreal left back Rodolfo Arruabarrena, who has won six caps at the age of 31, while Atletico Madrid's 18-year-old striker Sergio Aguero was also named.

All the players in the 21-strong squad, which included 11 survivors from last year's World Cup squad, are based with European clubs.

Lionel Messi, Carlos Tevez, Juan Pablo Sorin and Pablo Zabaleta were unavailable due to injury.

Goalkeepers: Roberto Abbondanzieri (Getafe), Leonardo Franco (Atletico Madrid)

Defenders: Roberto Ayala (Valencia), Gabriel Milito (Real Zaragoza), Nicolas Burdisso (Inter Milan), Javier Zanetti (Inter Milan), Gabriel Heinze (Manchester United), Fabricio Fuentes (Villarreal), Rodolfo Arruabarrena (Villarreal)

Midfielders: Fernando Gago (Real Madrid), Aldo Duscher (Deportivo Coruna), Esteban Cambiasso (Inter Milan), Luis Gonzalez (Porto), Leandro Somoza (Villarreal), Pablo Aimar (Real Zaragoza), Jonas Gutierrez (Real Mallorca)

Forwards: Javier Saviola (Barcelona), Sergio Aguero (Atletico Madrid), Diego Milito (Real Zaragoza), Hernan Crespo (Inter Milan), Lisandro Lopez (Porto).