Barca left back Balde replaces injured Jose Luis Gaya in Spain squad

Spain coach Luis Enrique admitted it has been "the worst day for having to tell Gaya that he had to leave the squad, due to an injury that is not that serious, but with the games so close, it would have been a risk (to keep him)."
Alejandro Balde
Alejandro Balde

DOHA: FC Barcelona's 19-year-old left back Alejandro Balde has replaced Jose Luis Gaya in the Spain squad for the World Cup, the Spanish Football Federation has confirmed.

Gaya missed the World Cup after suffering an ankle injury, with Balde stepping up from the Under-21 side after an impressive start to the season, which has seen him play at both left and right back for Barca -- although he has just 23 first-team appearances in his career and only made his Under-21 debut in September, reports Xinhua.

Spain coach Luis Enrique admitted it has been "the worst day for having to tell Gaya that he had to leave the squad, due to an injury that is not that serious, but with the games so close, it would have been a risk (to keep him)."

Simeone, Pereyra put on World Cup standby for Argentina

Napoli forward Gio Simeone and Udinese attacking midfielder Roberto Pereyra have been added to Argentina's list of reserves for the FIFA World Cup, the Argentine Football Association (AFA) said on Friday.

The announcement came a day after Valencia midfielder Nico Gonzalez and Inter Milan forward Joaquin Correa were cut from the Albiceleste's 26-man squad due to muscle injuries. Atletico Madrid's Angel Correa and Atlanta United's Thiago Almada were named as direct replacements for the injured pair and joined Argentina's squad on Friday.

News that Pereyra and Simeone were placed on standby is in line with manager Lionel Scaloni's aim to have at least one backup player in each position at his disposal. Two-time champions Argentina will kick off their World Cup campaign against Saudi Arabia on November 22 before also facing Mexico and Poland in Group C.

Marquinhos eases World Cup injury fears

Brazil defender Marquinhos is poised to be fully fit for his team's opening FIFA World Cup match against Serbia after overcoming a leg muscle injury.

The 28-year-old was forced to sit out training earlier in the week but looked untroubled as he joined his teammates for a full practice session at Brazil's pre-World Cup base in Turin on Friday.

The Paris Saint-Germain player had described the injury as a "nuisance", affirming that he was gradually returning to peak physical condition after a week of rest.

Brazil will begin the tournament in Qatar against Serbia on November 24 before also facing Switzerland and Cameroon in Group G. The South American team will be aiming to win international football's most coveted prize for a sixth time.

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