Austria's Ivanschitz returns for qualifiers
Former Austria captain Andreas Ivanschitz has been called up for next month's European Championship qualifiers against Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan after 2 1/2 years away from the team.
The Mainz midfielder never played under coach Dietmar Constantini, who stepped down this month, but was included in the 23-man squad announced Tuesday by interim coach Willi Ruttensteiner.
''Ivanschitz is among the best 23 players of our nation. That's why I picked him,'' Ruttensteiner said. ''He told me he would love to play again for the team. But like anyone else, he is not guaranteed a starting place.''
Ivanschitz became Austria's youngest ever captain at 19 under coach Hans Krankl in 2003. His last of 49 matches for Austria was against Sweden on Feb. 11, 2009, which was coach Karel Bruckner's final game before Constantini took over.
Not yet returning was defender Martin Stranzl, who was also dropped by Constantini and who had publicly criticized Ruttensteiner recently.
''I've spoken to him as well, but he has not clearly indicated that he would be available to come back to the team,'' Ruttensteiner said.
According to spokesman Peter Klinglmueller, the Austrian football federation is still searching for a new coach and plans to announce its decision before Austria plays the Ukraine in a friendly game in Lviv on Nov. 15.
Ruttensteiner called up debutant goalkeepers Robert Almer and Joerg Siebenhandl to replace regulars Christian Gratzei, Helge Payer and Juergen Macho, who are all injured.
Missing from the squad were Christopher Dibon and Daniel Royer, who will play for Austria's under-21 team the same week.
Austria, which can no longer advance from qualifying Group A, plays Azerbaijan in Baku on Oct. 7 and Kazakhstan in Astana four days later.
Goalkeepers: Robert Almer (Duesseldorf), Pascal Gruenwald (Austria Vienna), Joerg Siebenhandl (Wiener Neustadt)
Defenders: Ekrem Dag (Besiktas), Aleksandar Dragovic (FC Basel), Christian Fuchs (Schalke), Florian Klein (Austria Vienna), Manuel Ortlechner (Austria Vienna), Emanuel Pogatetz (Hannover), Sebastian Proedl (Werder Bremen), Franz Schiemer (Salzburg)
Midfielders: David Alaba (Bayern Munich), Julian Baumgartlinger (Mainz), Martin Harnik (Stuttgart), Andreas Ivanschitz (Mainz), Jakob Jantscher (Salzburg), Zlatko Junuzovic (Austria Vienna), Paul Scharner (West Bromwich Albion), Christopher Trimmel (Rapid Vienna)
Forwards: Marko Arnautovic (Werder Bremen), Philipp Hosiner (Admira), Marc Janko (FC Twente), Stefan Maierhofer (Salzburg)