With Andrey Arshavin out of the squad, Igor Denisov will wear the captain’s armband in Russia’s first official match under Fabio Capello against visiting Northern Ireland.
It's a staggering statistic, but Russia haven't qualified for a world cup since 2002 and Fabio Capello has been brought in to try and change that.
Russia are coming off the back of a disappointing campaign at the Euro 2012 championships, but the Italian is confident he's seen enough positives to help his side get to Brazil 2014.
“The past isn’t as important to me as the present and the future,” he said. “Our aim is to make it to Brazil and we’ll give everything away to achieve it.”
Capello will have a fully fit squad to choose from. All the players are based in Russia, and of course there's no Andrey Arshavin, who has been dropped.
The Italian has announced that Dmitry Kombarov, who's been in fine form for Spartak Moscow, will make the starting XI.
“I’m more or less sure of our lineup,” the 66-year-old stressed. “Kombarov will play as left back. He’s very important for our team.”
However, he could be a bit short of striking options, with just two fit forwards, however, this isn't something that's worrying Capello.
“As for the strikers, let’s see how the guys do against Northern Ireland,” he stressed. “If necessary, we’ll call somebody up for the match in Israel (on September 11).”
Friday will be a proud moment for Igor Denisov, who will captain his country in a competitive match for the first time.
The 27-year-old has been the standout player for his country over the last year, developing into one of the best defensive midfielders in Europe. However, he's expecting a tough physical test against the Northern Irish.
“I think they will play very aggressively against us,” he said. “We must make sure that our pressing game is good, and take the game to them. If we manage to do that, then I am sure we'll be fine.”
There is still some ill feeling towards the Russian team following their poor display in Poland and Ukraine, and it's unlikely that Friday's game will be a sell-out.
However, if Capello's men put in a good performance and get all three points that could go along way to getting the fans back through the turnstiles.
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