Soccer

Papadopoulos back for Greece after 6-year absence

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ATHENS, Greece (AP)

Greece striker Dimitris Papadopoulos was called up to the national squad on Friday after a six-year absence as the team grasps for goal-scoring options ahead of next month's World Cup qualifiers.

Greece coach Fernando Santos named the 31-year-old Atromitos forward as a surprise inclusion for Group G matches in Liechtenstein on Sept. 6 and at home against Latvia four days later.

Papadopoulos hasn't played for the national team since 2007, making little impact during spells abroad at Lecce, Dinamo Zagreb and Celta Vigo. But he impressed on his return to Greece in 2012, scoring 11 goals for Panthrakikos last season.

Bosnia leads Group G with 16 points, three more than Greece.

Fulham midfielder Giorgos Karagounis kept his place as captain of the Greek squad.

''We've come to a decisive point in the qualifying campaign and we need Karagounis' experience,'' Santos said Friday of the 36-year-old Karagounis, who played a prominent role in Greece's European Championship win in 2004.

''Unfortunately we're in the position now that we must wait for Bosnia to slip up and be ready to take advantage of that ... So it's not really the time for too many experiments.''

The Portuguese coach appeared disappointed with his players' goal-scoring record - even from six matches, compared with Bosnia's stunning 23 goals. The Greeks fell behind after losing to Bosnia 3-1 in March.

''We need more options up front and Papadopoulos is in great form,'' Santos said. ''He's fast, active, and adapts well to different formations. So he seemed like a very good choice.''

Strikers Dimitris Salpingidis and Georgios Samaras are both suspended for the Liechtenstein match. Veteran forward Fanis Gekas was dropped from the lineup to make way for Stefanos Athanasiadis and Lazaros Christodoulopoulos.

Midfielder Yiannis Fetfatzidis returned to the squad after a yearlong absence, regaining Santos' trust despite getting little game time at Greek champion Olympiakos.

Fetfatzidis was one of six players picked from Olympiakos, while no members of traditional rival Panathinaikos were selected for the national team.

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Squad:

Goalkeepers: Orestis Karnezis (Granada), Michalis Sifakis (Atromitos)

Defenders: Jose Holebas (Olympiakos), Costas Manolas (Olympiakos), Sokratis Papastathopoulos (Borussia Dortmund), Dimitris Siovas (Olympiakos), Nikos Spyropoulos (PAOK), Vassilis Torosidis (Roma), Loukas Vyntra (Levante)

Midfielders: Yiannis Fetfatzidis (Olympiakos), Kostas Fortounis (Kaiserslautern), Giorgos Karagounis (Fulham), Costas Katsouranis (PAOK), Panagiotis Kone (Bologna), Yiannis Maniatis (Olympiakos), Sotiris Ninis (Parma), Panagiotis Tachtsidis (Catania), Alexandros Tziolis (PAOK)

Forwards: Stefanos Athanasiadis (PAOK), Lazaros Christodoulopoulos (Bologna), Costas Mitroglou (Olympiakos), Dimitris Papadopoulos (Atromitos), Dimitris Salpingidis (PAOK), Georgios Samaras (Celtic)

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