Colombia have called up James Rodriguez for their forthcoming World Cup qualifiers despite the Real Madrid player’s continued injury absence.
James has been sidelined since tearing a muscle in his left thigh during Colombia’s friendly against Peru in New Jersey last month.
He remains a doubt for Sunday’s Madrid derby in La Liga but that has not stopped Jose Pekerman from including the 24-year-old in his 26-man squad for Colombia’s opening Russia 2018 qualifiers – another meeting with Peru in Barranquilla on October 8 and a trip to Uruguay on October 13.
Radamel Falcao is also included despite experiencing similar form struggles at Chelsea to his misfiring year with Manchester United last season, while Juan Cuadrado will hope to reproduce the productive form showcased on loan at Juventus from the London club.
Among Pekerman’s group, 10 players are drawn from domestic Colombian football.
Squad in full:
Goalkeepers: David Ospina (Arsenal), Camilo Vargas (Atletico Nacional), Cristian Bonilla (Equity).
Defenders: Santiago Arias (PSV Eindhoven), Francisco Meza (Santa Fe), Cristian Zapata (AC Milan), Eder Alvarez Balanta (River Plate), Jeison Murillo (Inter), Frank Fabra (Independiente Medellin), Johan Mojica (Real Valladolid), Helibelton Palacios (Deportivo Cali).
Midfielders: Alexander Mejia (Atletico Nacional), Carlos Sanchez (Aston Villa), Freddy Guarin (Inter), Edwin Cardona (Monterrey), Gustavo Cuellar (Atlético Junior), Juan Cuadrado (Juventus), James Rodriguez (Real Madrid), Macnelly Torres (Atlético Nacional), Wilmar Barrios (Deportes Tolima).
Forwards: Radamel Falcao (Chelsea), Jackson Martinez (Atletico Madrid), Carlos Bacca (AC Milan), Teofilo Gutierrez (Sporting), Rafael Santos Borre (Deportivo Cali), Fabian Castillo (FC Dallas)