BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) - Monaco striker Radamel Falcao was named on Tuesday in Colombia’s provisional World Cup squad even though he is still recovering from knee surgery.
Falcao, Colombia’s big hope on their return to the finals after a 16-year absence, is hoping to be fit for the tournament in Brazil starting on June 12.
His regular strike partner Teofilo Gutierrez, looking to lift the Argentine league title with River Plate this weekend, is also among six forwards on the list of 30.
Gutierrez, whose partnership with Falcao in the South American qualifiers yielded a combined total of 15 goals, could shoulder the burden of Colombia's main striker if the Monaco player is not ready for one or more of the group games.
Colombia's Argentine coach Jose Pekerman, who steered his home country to the quarter-finals in Germany in 2006, has kept faith with the players he picked during the qualifiers. He will have to cut the squad down to 23 by June 2.
Pekerman's team face Greece, Ivory Coast and Japan, in that order, in Group C.
The coach has lined up warm-up matches for Colombia in his home city of Buenos Aires against Senegal on May 31 and Jordan on June 6.
Goalkeepers: David Ospina (Nice), Faryd Mondragon (Deportivo Cali), Camilo Vargas (Independiente Santa Fe)
Defenders: Mario Yepes (AC Milan), Cristian Zapata (AC Milan), Pablo Armero (West Ham United), Camilo Zuniga (Napoli), Aquivaldo Mosquera (America, Mexico), Santiago Arias (PSV Eindhoven), Luis Amaranto Perea (Cruz Azul), Eder Alvarez Balanta (River Plate), Carlos Valdes (San Lorenzo)
Midfielders: Fredy Guarin (Inter Milan), Juan Cuadrado (Fiorentina), Victor Ibarbo (Cagliari), James Rodriguez (Monaco), Abel Aguilar (Toulouse), Juan Fernando Quintero (Porto), Carlos Sanchez (Elche), Macnelly Torres (Al Shabab), Aldo Leao Ramirez (Morelia), Edwin Valencia (Fluminense), Alexander Mejia (Atletico Nacional), Elkin Soto (Mainz)
Forwards: Radamel Falcao (Monaco), Luis Fernando Muriel (Udinese), Jackson Martinez (Porto), Carlos Bacca (Sevilla), Adrian Ramos (Hertha Berlin), Teofilo Gutierrez (River Plate)
(Reporting by Luis Jaime Acosta; Writing by Rex Gowar in Buenos Aires, editing by Pritha Sarkar)