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Messi and Aguero injuries do not weaken Argentina, says James

Argentina are as strong as ever despite being without injured star forwards Lionel Messi and Sergio Aguero, according to Colombia playmaker James Rodriguez.

James spent two months out of action with a thigh problem, but has scored in his first two matches since returning to fitness – against Sevilla for Real Madrid and in his national side's 1-1 draw with Chile on Thursday.

Colombia have four points from their first three World Cup 2018 qualifiers going into Tuesday's game against Gerardo Martino's Argentina, who only have two points and sit ninth out of 10 teams in the table.

James, though, insists nothing has changed for the World Cup finalists even on the back of a poor run of form as key players remain absent. 

"Any player would want to be involved in games against Argentina," the 24-year-old told

"It is the sort of game that is not hard to motivate yourself for. They are tough opposition and have some very good players. 

"Neither Messi nor Aguero will play, but nevertheless they still have an excellent squad. Their absences don't change anything or the difficulty of the opposition. 

"We need to set out to win the game."

After making his return to fitness, James admitted he was very concerned in the immediate aftermath of suffering his injury in September.

"The first few days after the injury I was at home, I was worried and I was having a bad time of things," he said.

Following the international break, James will hope to be named in Rafael Benitez's starting line-up for the crucial Clasico against Barcelona on Saturday.