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Injured Benayoun out of Israel squad to face Russia

JERUSALEM, Nov 12 (Reuters) Israel coach Dror Kashtan left out injured Liverpool midfielder Yossi Benayoun from the 23-man squad he named to face Russia and Macedonia in their final Euro 2008 Group E qualifiers.

Benayoun, who scored a hat-trick in Liverpool's 8-0 rout of Besiktas in the Champions League last week, suffered a groin strain during the Merseysiders' 2-0 Premier League win over Fulham on Saturday.

Israel, who cannot qualify for the finals, face Russia on Saturday in Tel Aviv and are at home again against Macedonia four days later.

The first of the two games will be watched with great interest by England, whose hopes of qualifying for the finals depend heavily on the hosts stopping Russia from winning.

England host group leaders Croatia in their final qualifier on November. 21. But that game will almost certainly only be significant for them if Russia fail to win in Tel Aviv.

Russia's final match is away to Andorra, a clash they are expected to win with ease.

Group leaders Croatia, with 26 points, are assured of qualification. England are second with 23 points and one match remaining and Russia are third on 21 points with two matches left.

Kashtan has called in one debutant, 19-year-old Bnei Sakhnin midfielder Maor Buzaglo, whose impressive start to the season has included four goals for the Israeli-Arab outfit.

Argentine-born striker Roberto Colautti of Bourussia Moenchengladbach has been recalled after recovering from injury and Maccabi Haifa central defender Dekel Keinan, Maccabi Tel Aviv midfielder Ravid Gazal and Beitar Jerusalem striker forward Amit Ben Shushan have also been included.

Israel squad: Goalkeepers: Dudu Aouate (Deportivo Coruna), Nir Davidovich (Maccabi Haifa), Liran Strauber (Maccabi Netanya).

Defenders: Tal Ben Haim (Chelsea), Shimon Gershon (Beitar Jerusalem), Yoav Ziv (Beitar Jerusalem), Dekel Keinan (Maccabi Haifa), Eyal Meshumar (Maccabi Haifa), Avi Strul (Maccabi Netanya), Dedi Ben Dayan (Maccabi Netanya), Yuval Shpungin (Maccabi Tel Aviv).

Midfielders: Gal Alberman (Beitar Jerusalem), Aviram Baruchyan (Beitar Jerusalem), Tamir Cohen (Maccabi Netanya), Moshe Ohayon (Winterthur), Maor Buzaglo (Bnei Sakhnin), Ravid Gazal (Maccabi Tel Aviv).

Strikers: Roberto Colautti (Borussia Monchengladbach), Ben Sahar (Queens Park Rangers), Elyaniv Barda (Genk), Omer Golan (Maccabi Petah Tikva), Barak Yitzhaki (Beitar Jerusalem), Amit Ben Shushan (Beitar Jerusalem).

REUTERS SSC RK0950

Story first published: Monday, November 12, 2007, 11:09 [IST]
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