Dybala and Icardi's World Cup hopes doused by Sampaoli
Paulo Dybala and Mauro Icardi are in danger of being ignored by Argentina coach Jorge Sampaoli for his World Cup squad after failing to impress during previous international call-ups.
Argentina face Italy in Manchester on Friday in a friendly clash as Sampaoli's World Cup preparations are stepped up a notch with less than three months until the tournament starts, but Dybala and Icardi are both absent from the group.
Having struggled in qualifying, scraping through on the last day, many of Argentina's problems were put down to misfiring forwards.
Although he has been in fine form for club side Inter, Icardi's exclusion would not be hugely surprising given he has just four caps and did not make a big impression during his three previous outings for Sampaoli.
Juventus star Dybala had been involved in all of Sampaoli's previous Argentina squads, though he did not score in any of his six appearances, while his only assist came against Singapore.
And it appears both have run out of chances.
"It is complicated for Dybala to get used to our system," Sampaoli told reporters on Thursday.
"We couldn't improve his performances and we have to evaluate if the current players [in this squad] are better than Paulo or if we have to keep working with Paulo to improve his performance.
"Icardi's situation is similar to Dybala's. The transition of Icardi's performance from Inter to Argentina weren't the best.
"I considered it and felt that we have to work better, but we don't have enough time. Maybe his adaptation time is not a short time.
"I don't dismiss him, but, as Argentina's coach I have to focus on performances in the field."
The second of Argentina's two friendlies will see them face Spain in Madrid, and Sampaoli could have Sergio Aguero available for selection again after a suffering a knee injury.
Sampaoli said: "We have been talking to team doctors at Manchester City and evaluating the situation to see if there is any possibility he can play any part in the two games.
"It looks like he will be sitting out the first one and we will see for the second one."