Japan manager Philippe Troussier retained Yokohama F. Marinos midfielder Shunsuke Nakamura in his squad for next Wednesday’s friendly international against Costa Rica and also brought back left-sided midfielder/defender Toshihiro Hattori.
Hattori, who has missed most of this season after contracting peritonitis, is joined by Jubilo Iwata teammate Makoto Tanaka, the only uncapped player in the squad.
Japan’s overseas-based players, including Hidetoshi Nakata and Shinji Ono, were not considered for Wednesday’s game.
Troussier was less than pleased after Nakamura’s last runout with the national team in the 1-0 win over Ukraine in Osaka two weeks ago, but the French boss may give the mercurial midfielder one more chance on his home ground at International Stadium Yokohama, where Nakamura has helped steer the Marinos toward the top of the J1 standings.
Brazilian-born winger Alex is likely to compete with Nakamura for the starting job on the left side of midfield, although with some of his regular strikers (Takayuki Suzuki, Akinori Nishizawa, Tatsuhiko Kubo and Atsushi Yanagisawa) firing blanks recently, Troussier could be tempted to play the S-Pulse star up front.
At the back, Marinos defender Yuji Nakazawa could get a runout alongside his teammate Naoki Matsuda, while, in the absence of Nakata, Kashima Antlers midfielder Mitsuo Ogasawara is favored to take the playmaking role in the center of the park after a fine debut as sub against Ukraine.
The match against Costa Rica kicks off at 7:20 p.m.
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