Argentina's World Cup preparations have suffered a blow after goalkeeper Sergio Romero was ruled out of the tournament with a knee injury.
The Argentina Football Association (AFA) confirmed the experienced shot-stopper would miss the even in Russia. The Manchester United goalkeeper injured his right knee during training in Buenos Aires on Tuesday.
"Romero will be removed from the list of 23 players who will participate in the 2018 World Cup in Russia," the AFA said in a statement.
Romero, 31, is the most capped goalkeeper in the history of the Argentina national team with 83 appearances and represented the country at the 2010 and 2014 World Cups.
While "Chiquito" is regarded as second choice at his club, behind Spain's David De Gea, he is considered to be an integral part of the national team, having kept his place in the team despite his lack of first team football.
The AFA said Romero had suffered a blockage in his right knee and was being evaluated surgically. A replacement will be announced "in the coming days," the statement said.
However, one source close to the United goalkeeper disputed that turn of events. Romero's wife, Eliana Guercio insisted his removal from the squad was premature, telling US TV that “many people want him out” of the side.
Speaking on the Los Angeles De La Manana TV show, Guercio said: “There’s nothing broken. It’s a piece of loose cartilage. The doctors told him he was OK for the World Cup. The recovery [from the injury] is two to three weeks maximum."
It was later confirmed that Nahuel Guzmán, who plays for Mexican club Tigres, has been picked as Romero's replacement.
Romero was one of the three goalkeepers chosen by coach Jorge Sampaoli for the 23-player squad he will take to the World Cup in Russia. River Plate's Franco Armani and Chelsea's back-up keeper Wilfredo Caballero are also named in the squad.
"Romero's injury represents a sensitive loss, not just in the football part, but on the human side. He's been a starter for 10 years with the national team," veteran midfielder and defender Javier Mascherano told reporters Wednesday. "These are things that happen in soccer, it could happen to anyone. Now, we must all move forward together, those who are still here."
As well as his World Cup experience, Romero has represented Argentina in three Copa América tournaments and was also a member of the side that won gold at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Argentina, beaten finalists in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, open their Group D campaign in Russia against Iceland on June 16. Other first round opponents include Croatia and Nigeria.