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Football | International

Shinji Kagawa © Action Images

Kagawa recalled to Japan squad



Manchester United playmaker Shinji Kagawa was recalled to the Japan squad for Wednesday's home friendly against Latvia after returning to form and fitness.

Kagawa missed Japan's previous match, their narrow 2-1 World Cup qualifying win away to Oman in November, because of a knee problem picked up while playing for United.

He returned to action at the end of December and has shown improved form as United have pushed seven points clear of Manchester City at the top of the Premier League.

"In the recent games that I watched Kagawa in the Premier League, I get the impression he is really starting to fit in." Japan head coach Alberto Zaccheroni was quoted as saying by Japanese media of Kagawa.

Zaccheroni's 23-man squad for the friendly in Kobe, Kagawa's hometown, also includes VVV Venlo striker Yuki Ostu for the first time.

The Dutch-based striker impressed with three goals at the London Olympics.

"I wanted to call him up before but at that time he was not playing for his team," Zaccheroni said of the former Borussia Moenchengladbach player who moved to the Dutch side last year.

"At the moment he is getting games under his belt and is showing his character on the pitch."

Zaccheroni's side will play another friendly against Canada in Doha in March before they take on Jordan in World Cup qualifying as they close in on a berth in Brazil.

Squad:

Goalkeepers: Takuto Hayashi (Vegalta Sendai), Eiji Kawashima (Standard Liege), Shuichi Gonda (FC Tokyo)

Defenders: Yasuyuki Konno (Gamba Osaka), Masahiko Inoha (Jubilo Iwata), Hiroki Mizumoto (Sanfrecce Hiroshima), Yuto Nagatomo (Inter Milan), Atsuto Uchida (Schalke), Maya Yoshida (Southampton), Hiroki Sakai (Hannover), Gotoku Sakai (Stuttgart)

Midfielders: Yasuhito Endo (Gamba Osaka), Makoto Hasebe (Wolfsburg), Hajime Hosogai (Bayer Leverkusen), Hideto Takahashi (FC Tokyo).

Forwards: Ryoichi Maeda (Jubilo Iwata), Shinji Okazaki (Stuttgart), Keisuke Honda (CSKA Moscow), Mike Havenaar (Vitesse Arnhem), Takashi Inui (Eintracht Frankfurt), Shinji Kagawa (Manchester United), Hiroshi Kiyotake (Nuremberg), Yuki Otsu (VVV Venlo).

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