London — Sergio Romero may be set for his usual spot on the Manchester United bench in Saturday’s FA Cup final against Chelsea but the absence of action does not dampen his conviction he will be Argentina’s first-choice goalkeeper at the World Cup.
Romero, who got a rare start in United’s 1-0 home win over Watford on the final day of the Premier League on Sunday when first-choice goalkeeper David de Gea was rested, is certain to be going to his third World Cup finals in Russia in June.
However, the 31-year-old could face stiff competition from uncapped River Plate goalkeeper Franco Armani, who was included in coach Jorge Sampaoli’s 35-man provisional squad on Monday after a stellar season that included 11 clean sheets in his last 15 matches.
"I have never felt the weight of being inactive," perennial club reserve Romero said. "For me it’s not the same for a goalkeeper to lack matches as it is for an outfield player."
Despite criticism over an inability to hold down a regular first-team place at Sampdoria, AS Monaco and Manchester United in the past five years, the former Racing Club custodian has won an Argentina goalkeeping record 94 caps since his 2009 debut.
"Thankfully, I have shown over the years that whether I play or not [for my club], I’ll always be fit because that’s what I train for," said Romero, who helped United win last season’s Europa League, a competition in which he was a regular starter.
"I’ve shown I’m worthy of playing in the Argentina national team," said the 1.92m Romero.
"I’m always keen to join up with the Argentina team to play, to stop shots, that’s my goal and always has been since Diego [Maradona] gave me my debut."
Romero believes Sampaoli will resolve problems affecting Argentina’s recent form, which included a nervous run to the South American qualifiers in 2017 and a 6-1 roasting by Spain in a Madrid friendly in February.
"We need to put in lots of training to keep growing as a team and gain in confidence and belief in the coach’s tactics to get to the World Cup in the best shape possible and win the first match, which is important to start on the right foot."
Argentina kick off against Iceland on June 16 before also meeting Croatia and old rivals Nigeria in Group D.
"We know Iceland have strong players who had a great Euro and who won’t give anything away at a World Cup," Romero said.
"But we, as Argentina, such a football-mad country, have to look inwards and not at other teams. We’ve got to do our work and if we do that well, the other teams will have to worry about Argentina."