Mexico striker Raul Jimenez to make return against Sweden

Mexico head coach Gerardo Martino gestures during the international friendly soccer match between Mexico and Iraq at the Montilivi municipal stadium in Girona, Spain, Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2022. (AP Photo/Joan Monfort)

GIRONA, Spain (AP) Wolverhampton striker Raul Jimenez is set to play his first game since August when Mexico takes on Sweden on Wednesday in its final warmup for the Qatar World Cup.

Jimenez has been sidelined with a groin injury since Wolves played Bournemouth on Aug. 31 in the Premier League but is hoping to regain full match fitness for the World Cup after being included in Mexico�s 26-man roster despite the concerns of his club coach Julian Lopetegui.

''We decided to include him based on his evolution and after talking with him and the medical staff,'' Mexico coach Gerardo Martino said. ''Although he has not played against a real opponent yet, that will happen against Sweden. He has been practicing hard with us and responded well.''

Martino did not specify how much playing time he is planning to give Jimenez, who has been Mexico's starting striker since the Argentine coach took over the team in January 2019.

Jimenez has maintained his starting job despite scoring just three goals in his last 11 matches, all of them on penalty kicks.

Martino has so much confidence in Jimenez that he left Javier ''Chicharito'' Hernandez out of the final squad.

Hernandez, the former Manchester United striker who now plays for the Los Angeles Galaxy, has played in three World Cups and is Mexico's all-time leading scorer with 52 goals.

The 34-year-old forward hasn't featured for Mexico since a friendly in 2019. According to media reports, Hernandez's absence is due to disciplinary issues.

Mexico will be without Sevilla forward Jesus Corona, who injured his left ankle in the summer and could not make a full recovery ahead of the World Cup.

Mexico opens its World Cup campaign on Nov. 22 against Poland. It then faces Argentina and Saudi Arabia in Group C.

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Mexico:

Goalkeepers: Guillermo Ochoa (America), Alfredo Talavera (Juarez) Rodolfo Cota (Leon).

Defenders: Jorge Sanchez (Ajax), Nestor Araujo (America), Hector Moreno (Monterrey), Cesar Montes (Monterrey), Jesus Gallardo (Monterrey), Gerardo Arteaga (Genk), Kevin Alvarez (Pachuca), Johan Vazquez (Cremonese).

Midfielders: Andres Guardado (Betis), Edson Alvarez (Ajax), Erick Gutierrez (PSV), Hector Herrera (Houston), Roberto Alvarado (Chivas), Luis Chavez (Pachuca), Uriel Antuna (Cruz Azul), Orbelin Pineda (AEK), Carlos Rodriguez, (Cruz Azul), Luis Romo (Monterrey).

Forwards: Hirving Lozano (Napoli), Alexis Vega (Chivas), Rogelio Funes Mori (Monterrey), Henry Martin (America), Raul Jimenez (Wolverhampton).

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