Testing new players will be Russia’s priority in the upcoming friendly against Iceland, says national team coach Fabio Capello.
“The main idea of the upcoming training camp and friendly match is for the rookies to get used to the team and feel themselves part of it,” Capello told Sportbox.ru. “Our task is to give everybody a chance to show themselves. We must regain the winning spirit, which was in the team in the autumn.”
There are several new names in the Russian squad for Iceland, including Igor Lebedenko and Oleg Ivanov of Terek Grozny and Lokomotiv Moscow attacker, Maksim Grigoriev.
Capello was also looking at Porto’s Marat Izmailov, who was on the preliminary list, but didn’t make it into the squad.
“The Russian championship is on a winter break and the season in Portugal is in full swing. His physical condition would be different from the rest,” the Italian explained. “But I have already planned a trip to Porto’s home match against Malaga in the Champions League.”
Another former Russian international, Pavel Pogrebnyak, who scored several important goals for Reading in the English Premier League, may also return to the team soon.
“I met up with Reading coach [Brian McDermott] at their base and asked him how Pavel is doing and the coach said he’s just gaining his form. I’ll follow his progress,” the 66-year-old said.
Team Russia is scheduled to take on Iceland in Marbella, Spain on February 6.
Capello’s men are doing well in World Cup qualifying as they confidently top Group F on 12 points with main rivals from Portugal 5 points behind.
Russia will play their next official game on March 13 away to Northern Ireland.