• Kyodo

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The Japan Football Association on Tuesday named FC Tokyo midfielder Kento Hashimoto to replace the injured Hidemasa Morita on the men’s national squad for upcoming international friendlies against Colombia and Bolivia.

Kawasaki Frontale defensive midfielder Morita has withdrawn from the 23-man squad for the friendlies due to soreness in his right hamstring, according to his club.

It is the first senior national squad call-up for the 25-year-old Hashimoto, who has started every J. League game this season for first-place FC Tokyo.

“I wasn’t expecting to get this opportunity. I’m incredibly happy to be selected,” said Hashimoto.

“I want to show that I’m the type of player who isn’t afraid to battle it out in the dirt.”

Hashimoto’s playing time could be scarce for a Samurai Blue squad that already features experienced holding midfielders Gaku Shibasaki of Spanish first-division side Getafe and Vissel Kobe’s Hotaru Yamaguchi.

The friendlies against Colombia, on Friday at Yokohama’s Nissan Stadium, and Bolivia, on March 26 at Noevir Stadium in Kobe, are warm-ups for the upcoming Copa America, which starts in June in Brazil.

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