Crocked Chelsea star Zhirkov handed Russia call-up for vital Slovenia play-off

02 November 2009 04:15
Call up: Yuri Zhirkov

Yuri Zhirkov has been called up for Russia's World Cup 2010 play-off against Slovenia, despite battling with a knee injury that has restricted him to less than 90 minutes of action for Chelsea.

Guus Hiddink also named Barclays Premier League players Andrey Arshavin, Roman Pavlyuchenko and Diniyar Bilyaletdinov in a 24-man squad for the two-legs on November 14 and 18.

But if Chelsea thought their former manager would give struggling Zhirkov a break, they were sadly mistaken.

The 26-year-old has started just one match - against QPR in the Carling Cup - since making an £18million summer switch from CSKA Moscow.

The winger, who fills a problem left back position for Russia, has been struggling with a compound knee injury since aggravating the long-standing problem against AC Milan on the Blues' pre-season tour of America.

He is not part of the Chelsea squad travelling to Madrid for the Champions League match against Atletico on Tuesday, but has been able to train.

Zhirkov suffered a further setback when playing for Russia against Germany last month and was disturbed by swelling in his knee after playing just 20 minutes as a sub against Atletico at Stamford Bridge a fortnight ago.

Manchester United target Igor Akinfeev should retain his place in goal for the two matches against Slovenia, while Chelsea target Alan Dzagoev will be hoping to keep his place in the starting XI after playing against Azerbaijan last month.

RUSSIA SQUAD TO FACE SLOVENIAGoalkeepers: Igor Akinfeev (CSKA Moscow), Vladimir Gabulov (Dynamo Moscow), Vyacheslav Malafeev (Zenit St Petersburg).

Defenders: Alexander Anyukov (Zenit), Alexei Berezutsky, Vasily Berezutsky, Sergei Ignashevich (all CSKA), Yuri Zhirkov (Chelsea), Denis Kolodin (Dynamo Moscow), Renat Yanbaev (Lokomotiv Moscow).

Midfielders: Diniyar Bilyaletdinov (Everton), Vladimir Bystrov, Igor Denisov, Konstantin Zyryanov, Igor Semshov (all Zenit), Alexei Rebko (FC Moscow), Sergei Semak (Rubin Kazan), Alan Dzagoev (CSKA), Dmitri Torbinskiy (Lokomotiv Moscow).

Forwards: Andrey Arshavin (Arsenal), Alexander Kerzhakov (Dynamo Moscow), Roman Pavlyuchenko (Tottenham Hotspur), Pavel Pogrebnyak (Stuttgart), Dmitry Sychev (Lokomotiv Moscow).

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Source: Daily_Mail

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