Egor Titov, Dmitri Alenichev and Viktor Onopko are among the notable names to return to the Russia squad for the rescheduled UEFA EURO 2004™ Group 10 qualifier against Georgia in Tbilisi on 30 April.
Titov fit again
National team captain Titov is back after finally returning to full fitness following a bad injury last season. He has already played several league matches for his club, FC Spartak Moskva, most recently helping them to a 2-1 victory against FC Uralan Elista at the weekend.
Alenichev earns call
Alenichev, meanwhile, is included for the first time under coach Valeri Gazzev, who has ignored the talented FC Porto midfield player in the past. However, now that Alenichev, the 1998 Russian player of the year, has won a regular place with the Portuguese club, Gazzaev has found room for his talents.
'We need him'
"Titov and Alenichev are in great condition," Gazzaev said. "Titov is our captain and we need him back on the pitch. Alenichev, meanwhile, is in top form and I though he was one of the best players when Porto beat [S.S.] Lazio in the UEFA Cup. Our main problem is that all the players are in different physical conditions. So we will only be able to say who is playing in Tbilisi after meticulous tests".
The experienced Onopko, now playing with Spanish strugglers Rayo Vallecano, is included in the hope he will strengthen a defence which looked so vulnerable in the 3-1 qualifying loss against Albania. Also back in the squad are Olympique de Marseille striker Dmitri Sychev, FC Lokomotiv Moskva midfield player Marat Izmailov and PFC CSKA Moskva winger Spartak Gogniev, who all played for the Under-21s against Albania.
Finally, FC Torpedo Moskva midfielder Igor Semshov is recalled for the first time in several months and CSKA winger Rolan Gusev is missing though injury. The match in Tblisi will be played behind closed doors after crowd trouble at Georgia's last home international against the Republic of Ireland
The fixture was initially scheduled for October 2002, but was abandoned five minutes before half-time because of floodlight failure with the sides goalless. Russia are currently second in Group 10 with six points from three games, two points behind leaders Switzerland who have played a game more.
Mandrykin, Ovchinnikov, Chizhov, A Berezoutski, V Berezoutski, Evsikov, Onopko, Ignashevitch, Nizhegorodov, Aldonin, Yanovski, Solomatin, Gogniev, Smertin, Semshov, Izmailov, Titov, Alenichev, Kariaka, Sychev, Semak, Popov, Kerzhakov.
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