Benayoun included in Israel squad despite injury

Injured Chelsea midfielder Yossi Benayoun has been included in

the Israel squad for the upcoming European Championship qualifiers

against Croatia and Greece.

Israel hosts Croatia at Ramat Gan on Oct. 9 before traveling to

Greece three days later. Benayoun has not played for Chelsea since

limping off with a calf injury during the Carling Cup loss to

Newcastle on Sept. 22. However, Israel coach Luis Fernandez said

Wednesday he hoped the national team captain would be fit enough to

return to international duty.

”Yossi is a very important player,” Fernandez said when

announcing the squad, adding that he consulted with the team doctor

before including the former Liverpool player.

”We don’t want to take a risk with him,” Fernandez said.

He left open the possibility to rest Benayoun against Croatia to

make sure he was fit to play against Greece.

Fernandez also dropped Hapoel Tel Aviv striker Ben Sahar in

favor of Maccabi Tel Aviv forward Roberto Colautti, while Genk

striker Elyaniv Barda returned to the squad.

Celtic midfielder Biram Kiyal retained his place, while

Blackpool’s Dekel Keinan is expected to take his regular place in

the center of defense.

Squad:

Goalkeepers: Dudu Aouate (Mallorca), Ohad Levita (RKC Waalwijk),

Ariel Harush (Beitar Jerusalem).

Defenders: Tal Ben Haim (West Ham), Dekel Keinan (Blackpool),

Yoav Ziv (Maccabi Tel Aviv), Danny Bonder (Hapoel Tel Aviv), Dedi

Ben Dayan (Hapoel Tel Aviv), Rami Gershon (KV Kortrijk), Oshri

Roash (Hapoel Haifa), Dor Malul (Maccabi Tel Aviv).

Midfielders: Tamir Cohen (Bolton), Almog Cohen (Nuremberg),

Biram Kiyal (Celtic), Bibras Natcho (Rubin Kazan), Eran Zahavi

(Hapoel Tel Aviv), Gili Vermouth (Hapoel Tel Aviv), Eyal Golasa

(Maccabi Haifa), Lior Rafaelov (Maccabi Haifa), Yossi Benayoun

(Chelsea), Amit Ben Shushan (Beitar Jerusalem).

Forwards: Elyaniv Barda (Genk), Etay Shechter (Hapoel Tel Aviv),

Elroi Cohen (Hapoel Kiryat Shmona), Omer Damari (Maccabi Petah

Tikva), Roberto Collauti (Maccabi Tel Aviv).