Jeremy Sarmiento was handed a surprise new role by his national team boss.

But an outing as a false No.9 in Ecuador’s friendly against Argentina was not considered a success.

Sarmiento was shut out by the world champions and had little chance to shine as Ecuador went down 1-0 in Chicago.

The game was part of both teams’ preparations for the forthcoming Copa America and was decided by an Angel di Maria goal.

Sarmiento has generally played wide or off the main striker for Albion and in loan stints at West Brom and Ipswich – and has tended to come off the bench.

On this occasion, he started and played the first 78 minutes and the ploy of asking him to lead the attack in place of Enner Valencia was widely seen as one which did not come off.

Ecuador boss Felix Sanchez Bas used Kendry Paez in support of Sarmiento.

Sanchez Bas said: “Enner wasn’t ready to play from the start so we wanted to go with Kendry and Jeremy.”

Reaction in the South American media appeared to be that Sarmiento had been given a role for which he was not suited rather than that he played poorly.

He had a 100% completion rate with his five passes and created one chance but did not have a shot on goal and enjoyed just 17 touches of the ball as he was well marshalled by Argentina defenders Lisandro Martinez and Cristian Romero.

Albion left-back Valentin Barco was an unused sub for Argentina as he hope to secure a place at the Copa.

Barco appears to be competing for a squad place with Marcos Acuna, who played the full game.

The fact he was on the bench need not be a bad sign in terms of selection for the tournament.

Alexis Mac Allister also sat out the 90 minutes while Leo Messi went on in the second half.

Argentina now prepare to face Guatemala on Saturday.

Ecuador, playing without the injured Pervis Estupinan, face Bolivia on Thursday as preparations step up for the Copa.

Julio Enciso went on as a 65th-minute substitute for Paraguay as they drew 0-0 with Peru in Lima.

Paraguay play Chile in Santiago this week.