Ukraine are sweating over the fitness of captain Olexandr Yatsenko as they steel themselves for a last push to reach the UEFA European Under-21 Championship semi-finals.
The 21-year-old Yatsenko asked to be substituted in the 78th minute against Italy last night having sustained a muscle strain. It was telling that Ukrainian resistance was finally broken when he was off the field. The last-gasp 1-0 defeat in Agueda left Ukraine needing victory against Denmark on Monday night to make sure of progress. Olexiy Mykhaylychenko should at least be able to recall key attacking trio Adrian Pukanych, Ruslan Fomin and Taras Mikhalik having given them a rest.
As well as the worry over Yatsenko, his replacement Mykola Ischenko picked up a facial injury in a clash with forward Raffaele Palladino. However, team doctors are hopeful he will be fit to play unlike midfielder Olexandr Maksymov who missed out again yesterday with an ankle problem. One positive is that No10 Artem Milevskiy, who like goalkeeper Andriy Pyatov and defender Dmytro Chygrynskiy is going to the FIFA World Cup, is 100 per cent despite taking several knocks in a highly competitive encounter.
Day of rest
"Today was a rest day without any training sessions," team manager Vladimir Chorno-Ivanov told uefa.com. "There are several injured players but they have been relaxing today. We have a big game to play and we hope we will put on a good performance. The fans in Europe are seeing that we play good football. We are dreaming of playing in the semi-finals."
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