Monday Jul 4, 2022
Monday Jul 4, 2022

Aston Villa goalkeeper Martinez set for Argentina debut


Nepalnews
2021 Jun 03, 10:35, Kathmandu

Aston Villa goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez will make his international debut for Argentina in their FIFA World Cup qualifier against Chile, Albiceleste head coach Lionel Scaloni said on Wednesday.

The 28-year-old takes the place of Franco Armani, who was ruled out of Thursday's match in Santiago del Estero after failing to overcome a bout of COVID-19.

"Franco Armani cannot travel because he is still testing positive," Scaloni said of the River Plate player, who was first diagnosed with the virus on May 15.

"We have been testing him every day but he continues to be positive so even though he has no symptoms, he cannot travel."

Martinez, who represented Argentina at U17 and U20 level, has been one of the Premier League's best goalkeepers since joining Aston Villa from Arsenal last September. He kept 15 clean sheets in his first season in the West Midlands, equalling Brad Friedel's club record.

"We have been working with Emiliano for several days because we knew it would be difficult [for Armani to be available]," Scaloni said. "The decision was easy because he's in very good form."

Scaloni said Armani would also miss next Tuesday's qualifier against Colombia in Barranquilla.

Chile, meanwhile, have COVID-19 concerns of their own with Inter Milan midfielder Arturo Vidal recovering from the virus in hospital. The 34-year-old has been ruled out of Thursday's match and the Roja's qualifier against Bolivia on June 8.

Argentina are currently second in the 10-team South American zone standings, two points behind leaders Brazil.

The top four teams in the group will automatically qualify for next year's World Cup in Qatar while the fifth-ranked side will advance to an intercontinental playoff.

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