Aguirre calls up Kagawa, three uncapped players to Japan squad

Japan’s new coach Javier Aguirre called up Dortmund midfielder Shinji Kagawa on Wednesday for friendlies against Jamaica and Brazil this month, in his first international duty since leaving Manchester United.

The Mexican manager also named three uncapped players in his 23-strong squad, stepping up his experiment with untested talent ahead of the Blue Samurais’ defence of the Asian Cup title in January.

Kagawa missed the first two matches with 55-year-old Aguirre in charge because of a concussion he suffered in late August when he played for Manchester United before returning to his former Bundesliga club.

Aguirre, who took over the four-time Asian champions after their winless exit from the World Cup, also named Dutch-born Cordoba striker Mike Havenaar, who missed the trip to Brazil 2014.

The Blue Samurai will play Jamaica at home in Niigata on October 10 and Brazil in neutral Singapore four days later.

The former Mexico and Espanyol manager made eight changes to his squad who bowed to Uruguay 2-0 and drew 2-2 with Venezuela in home friendlies last month.

Europe-based Samurai regulars such as Inter-Milan defender Yuto Nagatomo, AC Milan midfielder Keisuke Honda and Mainz striker Shinji Okazaki were also called back for international duty.

“We’ll have only four matches before the Asian Cup. I want to check as many players as possible and take along the best 23,” Aguirre said. “The door to the national side is always open.”

“Kagawa is very talented and I want to see him play in the centre of a 4-3-3 formation,” the coach said, adding that a match against Brazil, the five-time world champions, will help the Blue Samurai grow further.

“I know it won’t be an easy match but we want to overcome adversity.”

The three uncapped players are Kashima defender Gen Shoji, Hiroshima defender Tsukasa Shiotani and Kawasaki striker Yu Kobayashi.

Japan will play two more friendlies at home — against Honduras on November 14 and Australia on November 18 — before defending their Asian Cup in Australia in January with group matches against Palestine, Iraq and Jordan.

Squad:

Goalkeepers – Eiji Kawashima (Standard Liege/BEL), Shusaku Nishikawa (Urawa Reds), Shuichi Gonda (FC Tokyo)

Defenders – Hiroki Mizumoto (Sanfrecce Hiroshima), Yuto Nagatomo (Inter Milan/ITA), Kosuke Ota (FC Tokyo), Daigo Nishi (Kashima Antlers), Maya Yoshida (Southampton/ENG), Tsukasa Shiotani (Sanfrecce Hiroshima), Gotoku Sakai (Stuttgart/GER), Gen Shoji (Kashima Antlers)

Midfielders – Hajime Hosogai (Hertha Berlin/GER), Masato Morishige (FC Tokyo), Junya Tanaka (Sporting Lisbon/POR), Shinji Kagawa (Dortmund/GER), Ryota Morioka (Vissel Kobe), Gaku Shibasaki (Kashima Antlers)

Forwards – Shinji Okazaki (Mainz/GER), Keisuke Honda (AC Milan/ITA), Mike Havenaar (Cordoba/ESP), Yu Kobayashi (Kawasaki Frontale), Yoichiro Kakitani (Basel/SUI), Yoshinori Muto (FC Tokyo)

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