Argentina drop Crespo, Veron and Ayala from squad
BUENOS AIRES, Aug 27 (Reuters) - Argentina have surprisingly dropped captain Roberto Ayala, midfielder Juan Sebastian Veron and striker Hernan Crespo from their squad for the World Cup qualifier away to Peru on September 4.
Gabriel Milito, who plays for Real Zaragoza in Spain, replaces Ayala, Nicolas Medina from English club Sunderland will step in for Veron and Milito's brother Diego will replace Crespo.
The decision was announced in a statement issued by the Argentine Football Association (AFA) and no reasons were given for the changes to the squad that had been initially named on August 22.
Coach Marcelo Bielsa, who is still to name a second goalkeeper for his squad, is in Greece with the Olympic team, who play Paraguay in the final on Saturday.
Former Chelsea team mates Veron and Crespo missed the Copa America in Peru in July where Argentina reached the final before losing to Brazil on penalties.
Inter Milan's Veron and AC Milan striker Crespo were picked for last week's friendly international away to Japan but their clubs refused to release them.
Veron last played for Argentina in November in a 1-1 draw away to Colombia in Barranquilla after which he had back surgery and missed most of the rest of the season.
Argentine media speculated that another club versus country dispute might have been behind the changes.
Valencia, in particular, were reportedly angry at the inclusion of Ayala in the Olympic squad as an overage player.
On the other hand, Manchester United defender Gabriel Heinze, who is also at the Olympics, has been retained in the squad, a decision which is likely to annoy the English premier league club.
Even with the changes, there was still no place in the squad for Javier Saviola.
The Barcelona player, popular with the Argentine public, has been repeatedly overlooked by Bielsa and missed the 2002 World Cup.
He scored a hat-trick when given a rare start in Argentina's opening Copa America match against Ecuador but, just as he seemed set to claim a place, missed most of the rest of the tournament with a nagging hamstring injury.
Argentina are second in the 10-nation South American World Cup qualifying group with 12 points, one less than leaders Brazil after seven games. Peru are seventh on nine points.
Goalkeeper: Pablo Cavallero (Celta Vigo, Spain)
Defenders: Facundo Quiroga (VfL Wolfsburg, Germany), Fabricio Coloccini (AC Milan, Italy), Gabriel Milito (Real Zaragoza, Spain), Gabriel Heinze (Manchester United, England), Walter Samuel (Real Madrid, Spain)
Midfielders: Javier Zanetti (Inter Milan, Italy), Javier Mascherano (River Plate), Juan Pablo Sorin (Cruzeiro, Brazil), Diego Placente (Bayer Leverkusen, Germany), Pablo Aimar (Valencia), Andres D'Alessandro (Wolfsburg), Lionel Scaloni (Deportivo Coruna, Spain), Nicolas Medina (Sunderland, England)
Forwards: Carlos Tevez (Boca Juniors), Mauro Rosales (Newell's Old Boys), Cesar Delgado (Cruz Azul/Cemeteros, Mexico), Cristian Gonzalez (Inter Milan), Mariano Gonzalez (Palermo, Italy), Diego Milito (Genoa, Italy)