SK Slavia Praha have turned to seven new signings to plug the gaps left by four key departures, with coach Karel Jarolím saying: "I am satisfied with the newcomers. Most of them can go straight into the starting lineup."
Not for the first time, Slavia found themselves having to make wholesale changes over the winter break after losing four important players. Top scorer Tomáš Necid joined PFC CSKA Moskva, Cape Verde midfielder Mickaël Tavares moved to Hamburger SV while key defenders Matej Krajčík and Martin Latka joined Reggina Calcio and Panionios GSS respectively. Six points clear at the top of the table ahead of the resumption of the season on 22 February, the Czech champions do not seem too daunted about bedding a whole raft of new signings into the team. Aside from Jarolím's professed satisfaction, sporting director Petr Doležal added: "I am sure we are not weaker than we were in the autumn."
The most high-profile of the new arrivals is Necid's Czech Under-21 team-mate Tomáš Pekhart, with the 19-year-old arriving on an 18-month loan from Tottenham Hotspur FC having not broken into the first team in north London. The forward said: "I hope I'll return to Tottenham to prove I'm good enough for the Premier League, but for now it is most important for me to play regularly." He may line up alongside striker Pavel Fořt, who is back at Slavia after two seasons abroad with Toulouse FC and FC Molenbeek Brussels Strombeek. The club have also signed playmaker David Trapp from FK Viktoria Plzeň to replace Tavares, with the 23-year-old set to make his Slavia debut against his old side in the first match of the spring.
Winger Aleš Besta is another arrival having being released by 1. FC Brno in September, as has 30-year-old Latvian goalkeeper Denis Romanovs, who last played for FC Dinamo 1948 Bucureşti. Brazilian defender James da Silva, 22, has signed from EC Juventude, while right-back Josef Kaufman comes in from FK Teplice. The latter, who spent last autumn on loan at Norway's Viking FK, picked up a knee injury in a winter friendly game in Dubai, as did former Liverpool FC midfielder Vladimír Šmicer. Slavia have now signed 30 players since Doležal took up his post in summer 2007, but the sporting director is confident in his policy, saying: "We won the title and played in the Champions League, so I think we are on the right track and the transfers paid off."
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