MOSCOW, October 2 (RIA Novosti)
Russia coach Fabio Capello has made four changes to to a 24-man squad for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers against Portugal and Azerbaijan, bringing in three uncapped players Tuesday.
Russia look to build on two wins in their first two World Cup 2014 qualifying games against Northern Ireland and Israel.
Experienced midfielder Konstantin Zyryanov makes way as Lokomotiv midfielder Dmitry Tarasov and forward Maxim Grigoryev seek their first caps, as does Dynamo Moscow defender Vladimir Granat.
Zenit St. Petersburg defender Renat Yanbaev returns to the Russia set-up for the first time since June 2011.
Besides Zyryanov, CSKA Moscow defender Georgy Shchennikov, Lokomotiv defender Taras Burlak and Lokomotiv midfielder Magomed Ozdoev are absent after making Capello’s last competitive squad.
The uncapped Ozdoev has been on the fringes of the Russia squad for several months, but has been forced out of the Lokomotiv side in the last month amid fierce competition for places.
International exile continues for some of Russia’s biggest names, with no return for forwards Andrei Arshavin, Roman Pavlyuchenko or Pavel Pogrebnyak, all left out for Russia’s previous competitive games and a provisional squad for the Portugal and Azerbaijan games.
Alexander Kerzhakov, Alexander Kokorin and Artem Dzyuba remain Capello's preferred strikers.
Ex-Chelsea left-back Yuri Zhirkov was in the 34-man provisional squad but Capello decided against recalling him to the team.
Fitness problems have restricted Zhirkov’s appearances for club side Anzhi in recent weeks.
Goalkeepers: Igor Akinfeev (CSKA Moscow), Vladimir Gabulov (Anzhi), Anton Shunin (Dynamo Moscow).
Defenders: Alexander Anyukov (Zenit St. Petersburg), Alexei Berezutsky (CSKA Moscow), Vasily Berezutsky (CSKA Moscow), Sergei Ignashevich (CSKA Moscow), Renat Yanbaev (Zenit St. Petersburg), Vladimir Granat (Dynamo Moscow), Andrei Yeshchenko (Lokomotiv Moscow).
Midfielders: Diniyar Bilyaletdinov (Spartak Moscow), Dmitry Kombarov (Spartak Moscow), Vladimir Bystrov (Zenit St. Petersburg), Igor Denisov (Zenit St. Petersburg), Viktor Fayzulin (Zenit St. Petersburg), Roman Shirokov (Zenit St. Petersburg), Alan Dzagoev (CSKA Moscow), Denis Glushakov (Lokomotiv Moscow), Dmitry Tarasov (Lokomotiv Moscow), Alexander Samedov (Lokomotiv Moscow).
Forwards: Artem Dzyuba (Spartak Moscow), Alexander Kerzhakov (Zenit St. Petersburg), Alexander Kokorin (Dynamo Moscow), Maxim Grigoryev (Lokomotiv Moscow).
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The self-defense forces in Donbass likely do not have the capability to win. Kiev will simply outlast the republic’s fighters. Ukraine still has many mobilization resources. The most important thing for self-defense fighters is not to win the war but rather not to lose it.