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Football | International

Fabio Capello © Action Images

Capello to test new players in friendly



Russia coach Fabio Capello thinks Wednesday's friendly against the United States in the southern city of Krasnodar will be a good chance to test new players in the national team before a long winter break.

Capello could give international debuts to several newcomers, including Real Madrid's Denis Cheryshev after including the 21-year-old left winger in his 26-man squad.

Cheryshev, whose father Dmitry made 10 appearances for the Russian national team in the mid-1990s, plays for Real's B team Castilla and has yet to feature for Jose Mourinho's side.

Capello could also try out Kuban Krasnodar keeper Alexander Belenov, Lokomotiv Moscow midfield duo Maxim Grigoryev and Magomed Ozdoyev as well as promising Anzhi Makhachkala striker Fyodor Smolov.

The above quartet, except the 26-year-old Belenov, have been instrumental in leading Russia's under-21 side into the Euro 2013 finals for the first time since 1998.

Belenov will have a second chance to prove his worth at a high level after failing to establish himself at Spartak Moscow following a move from second division Salyut Belgorod in 2010.

Capello, who succeeded Dutchman Dick Advocaat as Russia boss following a poor showing at Euro 2012, has vowed to blood new players into an ageing team after his predecessor was heavily criticised for relying on the old guard too much.

ARSHAVIN AXED

The Italian was quick to follow on his promise by dropping several experienced players, including former Tottenham Hotspur striker Roman Pavlyuchenko and ex-Chelsea winger Yuri Zhirkov.

Former national team skipper Andrei Arshavin was also left out because the Arsenal forward has seen little action for his London club this season.

Russia have made a flying start in their World Cup qualifying campaign under Capello, winning all four of their group matches to rise this month to ninth - their best position in Fifa's world rankings in more than three years.

"I didn't want to use too many new players during important (World Cup qualifiers). It would be too risky," the former England manager was quoted as saying by Russian media.

"But (Wednesday's) game gives us a good opportunity to test several young players in the national team set-up at once."

Krasnodar officials hope the game will also showcase the capital of Russia's southern region, overlooked as a host city for the 2018 World Cup.

US coach Juergen Klinsmann sees the friendly as a good "learning experience against one of the best teams in Europe at the moment" ahead of the final round of the CONCACAF region's World Cup qualifiers, which start in February.

"The approach was to play in Europe so that all our European players don't have to fly back again after recently being in the World Cup qualifiers," the former Germany striker told the US soccer federation's website (www.ussoccer.com).

The match will be the first between the two former Cold War adversaries since a 2000 friendly in Moscow, won by Russia 2-0. (Reporting by Gennady Fyodorov)



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