With less than a month to go before talk turns from hockey to football, at least for most of the male Czech and European population, Czech national trainer Pavel Vrba has revealed the broad squad of players he is counting on for the European Championships. While the Czechs sailed through their qualifications for the finals in France, Vrba has had a lot of selection headaches to resolve.
The Czechs begin their Euro 2016 campaign on June 13 against Spain, with matches against Croatia and Turkey to follow. It’s regarded as a tough group to qualify from with Spain the clear favourite to clinch first place.
And while there is one near certainty, that Arsenal keeper Petr Čech, fresh from winning the Premier League’s Golden Glove award for the fourth time, will feature between the posts, there has been a lot of uncertainty about the players likely to feature on the pitch in front of him.
The fourth defender’s place has been seen to be up for grabs, a series of late season injuries has cast doubts about the midfield selection, and the Czech strike force up front has posed a lot of questions.
And it was as regards strikers that Vrba admitted in a press conference Thursday that he has had the most problems. His initial squad of 28 includes four strikers: Slavia’s Milan Škoda, Sparta Prague’s David Lafata, Bursaspor’s Tomáš Necid, and Bohemians 1905’s Patrik Schick. It was the 20 year Schick who is perhaps one of the biggest surprises.
Tomáš Rosický has also been named in the squad despite missing out on most of the last season for Arsenal. Pavel Vrba said he had no reason to doubt that Rosický could make a full contribution to the Euro 2016 campaign.
“As you know, I was in England about two weeks ago to see how Tomáš was health wise. I came away content because Tomáš played a whole game without any interruption. After those two weeks, he has is still 100 percent fit and has not had to recover. From that point of view I do not see why he should not be fit for the European Championships.”
And Vrba has lined up league champions Viktoria Plzeň’s Roman Hubník to probably fill one of the problem gaps in defense.
Overall the players named are a pretty even mix of talent playing at home and abroad. The Czech squad, barring a few exceptions for players who have still got a few games to play, should come together for a training camp in Austria and a final warm up match against South Korea on June 5.
Vrba’s nominations so far is still a sort of rough guide and must still be juggled. Under UEFA rules, a final list of 23 players, of which three must be goalkeepers, has to be submitted by May 31. Replacements can still be made if one of those players is injured or falls ill.
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