Algeria coach Vahid Halilhodzic has omitted gifted playmaker Karim Ziani from the squad that will take on Central African Republic in the crucial and final clash of the 2012 African Cup of Nations qualifiers on 9 October.
"Ziani was not included in the squad because he suffered a thigh injury. His place in the team can't be questioned," Bosnian tactician Halilhodzic said after announcing his squad.
Ziani, 29, has been a permanent figure in the Desert Foxes’ team since making his debut in 2003, playing a pivotal role in helping Algeria qualify for last year's World Cup finals in South Africa.
However, he has suffered a dig in form since his 2009 move to Bundesliga side Wolfsburg, where he put in some below-par performances before being loaned out to Turkish outfit Kayserispor, where he also failed to impress.
The former Marseille playmaker then moved to the Arab Gulf region, signing for modest Qatari side Al-Jaish last summer, a transfer which prompted Algerian media to heavily criticize him.
Ziani was only a shadow of himself when he featured for Algeria in the 1-1 draw with Tanizania earlier this month and Halilhodzic sees no need for him at the moment.
Mourad Meghni – who plays for Qatari side Umm Salal – has been ruled out because of injury while in-form Ryad Boudebouz is still out for disciplinary reasons after rejecting a call-up for the Tanizania game last month.
Meanwhile, Reims midfielder Kamel Ghilas has featured in the Algeria squad for the first time since November 2009 after producing a string of fine performances in the French Ligue 2.
Algeria lie at the bottom of Group D with just 5 points - three behind Morocco and CAR - and must win the game to maintain a glimmer of hope of reaching the Nations Cup. The team will start their preparation on 2 October.
The 23-man list:
Rais Mbolhi (CSKA Sofia, Bul), Mohamed Lamine Zemmamouche (USM Alger), Michael Fabre (RC Lens, Fra).
Mehdi Mostefa (AC Ajaccio, Fra), Mohamed Meftah (USM Alger), Madjid Bougherra (Lakhouya, Qat), Carl Medjani (AC Ajaccio, Fra), Anthar Yahia (Al Nasr, KSA), Ismael Bouzid (Giannina, Gre), Nadir Belhadj (Al Sadd, Qat), Djamel Eddine Mesbah (Lecce, Ita).
Khaled Lemmouchia (USM Alger), Adlene Guedioura (Wolverhampton, Eng), Hassan Yebda (Granada, Spa), Abdelmoumen Djabou (ES Setif), Medhi Lacen (Getafe, Spa), Hocine Metref (JS Kabylie), Foued Kadir (Valenciennes, Fra).
Karim Matmour (Entreicht Frankfurt, Ger), Hameur Bouazza (Milwall, Eng), Rafik Djebbour (Olympiakos, Gre), Abdelkader Ghezzal (Cesena, Ita), Kamel Ghiles (Reims, Fra)