There were few surprises when Paraguay coach Ramon Diaz named his provisional squad for the upcoming Copa America Centenario, with a blend of experience and upcoming talent comprising the 39-man squad.
Paraguay’s three most experienced national team players all return, with defender Paulo da Silva, goalkeeper Justo Villar and Roque Santa Cruz – who boast 358 caps between them – selected in the initial squad.
Malaga striker Santa Cruz looks set to reprise a key role in the side despite his age of 34, although the up-and-coming talents of Antonio Sanabria, Angel Romero and Juan Iturbe will look to establish themselves as credible options for the final squad, to be named on May 9.
They will have to edge out more experienced strikers like Nelson Valdez of Seattle Sounders and Lucas Barrios of Palmeiras, while 22-year-old Dynamo Kiev forward Derlis Gonzalez has also featured regularly for Paraguay recently, with eight goals in 20 caps.
The squad is mainly comprised of talent plying their trade outside of Paraguay, though there is a sprinkling of local talent as well.
Teenage defender Saul Salcedo and Blas Riveros from Olimpia and 18-year-old midfielder Jesus Medina of Libertad will be looking to impress Diaz as they look to make their debuts for the national team.
Victor Caceres, currently playing Al-Rayyan in Qatar, and Cerro Porteno’s Jonathan Santana are the elder statesman in midfield.
Paraguay are in Group A, alongside host nation the United States, Colombia and Costa Rica.
The Paraguayans open their campaign against Costa Rica on June 4, a day after the tournament gets underway.
Paraguay’s 39-man preliminary squad in full:
Goalkeepers: Alfredo Aguilar (Guarani), Diego Barreto (Olimpia), Antony Silva (Cerro Porteno), Justo Villar (Colo Colo)
Defenders: Pablo Aguillar (America), Fabian Balbuena (Corinthians), Raul Caceres (Cerro Porteno), Paulo Da Silva (Toluca), Gustavo Gomez (Lanus), Juan Patino (Guarani), Ivan Piris (Udinese), Blas Riveros (Olimpia), Saul Salcedo (Olimpia), Miguel Samudio (America), Bruno Valdez (Cerro Porteno)
Midfielders: Miguel Almiron (Cerro Porteno), Victor Ayala (Lanus), Victor Caceres (Al-Rayyan), Osvaldo Martinez (America), Jesus Medina (Libertad), William Mendieta (Olimpia), Nestor Ortigoza (San Lorenzo), Celso Ortiz (AZ Alkmaar), Robert Piris Da Motta (Olimpia), Rodrigo Rojas (Cerro Porteno), Oscar Romero (Racing Club), Jonathan Santana (Cerro Porteno)
Forwards: Lucas Barrios (Palmeiras), Edgar Benitez (Queretaro), Jorge Benitez (Cruz Azul), Raul Bobadilla (FC Augsburg), Derlis Gonzalez (Dynamo Kiev), Nelson Haedo Valdez (Seattle Sounders), Juan Iturbe (AFC Bournemouth), Dario Lezcano (Ingolstadt), Hernan Perez (Espanyol), Angel Romero (Corinthians), Antonio Sanabria (Sporting Gijon), Roque Santa Cruz (Malaga)