• Kyodo

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Defenders Yuto Nagatomo and Tomoaki Makino have both pulled out of Japan’s squad for two upcoming World Cup qualifying games due to injury.

Coach Vahid Halilhodzic replaced the pair on Sunday, with Urawa Reds’ Wataru Endo and FC Tokyo’s Yuichi Maruyama, for Japan’s first two games of the final round of Asian qualifying. The two joined Shinji Kagawa (Borussia Dortmund) and Takashi Usami (Augsburg) at training camp, where 17 of the 24 called-up players have already assembled.

Japan faces the United Arab Emirates in Group B on Thursday in Saitama, before an away tie against Thailand on Sept. 6.

Nagatomo’s Inter Milan announced on its Twitter feed Saturday that the fullback won’t be available for the club’s home game against Palermo on Sunday due to a right hamstring injury, although the injury shouldn’t be too serious.

Urawa’s Makino was called up by Halilhodzic on Thursday as his unspecified injury only came to light moments before the squad announcement.

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