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Pep return won't distract Barcelona

Barcelona
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By ESPN Staff

Maradona: Only Mascherano certain of place

Argentina coach Diego Maradona has guaranteed Liverpool midfielder Javier Mascherano his place in the national team, but added that all 10 other starting spots are up for grabs.

Maradona, who took charge of his first game last night as the Albicelestes beat Scotland 1-0 in Glasgow, has handed the captain's armband to Liverpool midfielder Mascherano.

He then told Radio La Red on Thursday that Mascherano is the only player who can be sure of his place in the team.

''Taking Mascherano aside, nobody has a place secured in my team,'' he said.''It doesn't matter what his name is.''

Maradona also praised Javier Zanetti for his reaction to losing the captaincy.

''He proved he is a gentleman, he wants to go forward and keep playing,'' Maradona said.

Gabriel Heinze also impressed Maradona with his attitude.

''Heinze is like a bull,'' he said. ''At this moment we need players like him. The whole team had no fight. The ones on the bench were as happy as the starters.''

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