Injury-hit Russia to field untested Confederations Cup squad
MOSCOW (AP) Russia picked an inexperienced squad for the Confederations Cup because of injuries and a push to replace older players with young talent.
Only nine of the 23 players chosen late Wednesday were in last year's European Championship squad as coach Stanislav Cherchesov tries to replace older players. Of the 23, 14 have played 10 games or fewer for Russia.
Instead, there are fresh faces like defenders Georgy Dzhikiya and Ilya Kutepov, who helped Spartak Moscow to the Russian title this season. They stand in for veterans Vasily Berezutsky and Sergei Ignashevich, who have retired from international soccer.
Ahead of a friendly against Confederations Cup participant Chile on Friday, Russia coach Stanislav Cherchesov said he would be flexible in his squad selection for the tournament, without a fixed starting lineup.
''We don't have key players for this tournament. We have 20 players and three goalkeepers,'' he said.
Russia originally named a 30-man provisional squad, but lost five of those players because of injury.
Midfielders Alan Dzagoev and Roman Zobnin are out injured, the latter after damaging his knee ligaments in a 3-0 friendly win over Hungary on Monday. A knee problem for Zenit St. Petersburg forward Artyom Dzyuba leaves Fyodor Smolov as the main threat in an attack with limited international experience.
Among those not making the cut was Fenerbahce defensive midfielder Roman Neustaedter, meaning that host nation Russia, which opens against New Zealand on June 17, is the only country to name a Confederations Cup squad containing only players from its domestic league.
Goalkeepers: Igor Akinfeev (CSKA Moscow), Vladimir Gabulov (Arsenal Tula), Guilherme (Lokomotiv Moscow)
Defenders: Georgy Dzhikiya (Spartak Moscow), Ruslan Kambolov (Rubin Kazan), Fyodor Kudryashov (FC Rostov), Ilya Kutepov (Spartak Moscow), Roman Shishkin (FC Krasnodar), Igor Smolnikov (Zenit St. Petersburg), Viktor Vasin (CSKA Moscow)
Midfielders: Yuri Gazinsky (FC Krasnodar), Denis Glushakov (Spartak Moscow), Alexander Golovin (CSKA Moscow), Dmitry Kombarov (Spartak Moscow), Alexei Miranchuk (Lokomotiv Moscow), Alexander Samedov (Spartak Moscow), Dmitry Tarasov (Lokomotiv Moscow), Alexander Yerokhin (FC Rostov), Yuri Zhirkov (Zenit St. Petersburg)
Forwards: Alexander Bukharov (FC Rostov), Maxim Kannunikov (Rubin Kazan), Dmitry Poloz (FC Rostov), Fyodor Smolov (FC Krasnodar)
This story has been corrected to show that nine, not six, players in the Russia squad have played more than 10 international games.