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Colombia clash will be learning curve for Argentina’s young players – Scaloni

Lionel Messi is one of several big-name absentees from the squad.

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Lionel Messi is deciding on his international future (Owen Humphreys/PA)

Interim Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni has played down the lack of experience in his squad to face Colombia, insisting the friendly in New Jersey will be a good learning curve for the young players.

Scaloni, in charge after Jorge Sampaoli stepped down following a disappointing World Cup campaign in Russia this summer, has included a host of new faces in his squad.

River Plate playmaker Gonzalo Martinez and Velez Sarsfield attacking midfielder Matias Vargas are among those who have received their first call-ups.

Lionel Messi is not included after announcing he was taking an indefinite break from international duty, while the likes of Sergio Aguero, Angel Di Maria, Nicolas Otamendi and Gonzalo Higuain have also been left out.

Argentina defeated Guatemala 3-0 last week with the same group of players and Scaloni sees it as another step in building for the future.

“Anxiety is controlled by playing more matches,” he told reporters in a press conference. “There are players that are 18 or 19 years old and are capable of holding anxiety, for that reason they are great players.

“We have to be able to maintain our concentration against an opponent that is among the best in the world. It is great that these kids can play against Colombia.”

In Messi’s absence, no player in the squad will wear the number 10 shirt until the Barcelona star decides on his future.

Scaloni added: “It is obvious that when the best player in the world is not there on the pitch then the team loses something.

“Of the players which came, some kept their numbers from the World Cup. It (the 10 shirt) is Messi’s until he says if he will come back or not.

“We don’t have anything negative and for that we took the decision that no-one will use it. But we will see in the future.”

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Lionel Messi is deciding on his international future (Owen Humphreys/PA)