Greece injury concerns worsen but insist they will go for broke


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The Independent Football

Already struggling with their absentees, Greece were hit by another setback yesterday ahead of their Euro 2012 game against the Czech Republic when Giorgos Fotakis pulled out of training with a right thigh injury.

Greece will already be missing two key defenders for Tuesday's match in Group A in Wroclaw. Sokratis Papastathopoulos is suspended and Avraam Papadopoulos is out for the rest of the tournament with a left knee injury. Team officials said the 30-year-old Fotakis was injured accidentally by a teammate in training, adding that it was too early to tell if the midfielder's injury was serious.

Fotakis was expected to feature in coach Fernando Santos' plans for the Czechs. Midfield anchor Costas Katsouranis is widely tipped to play in defence, just as he did after Papastathopoulos' red card in Friday's 1-1 draw with Poland in the opener.

The 2004 champions remain reliant on a solid defence, having conceded just five goals in qualifying. Greece players, meanwhile, made it clear they would not underestimate the Czech Republic, despite their opening 4-1 loss to Russia.

"The Czechs are a very good team. I agree (with other teammates) that they are better than Poland and they will give us a very difficult time," attacking midfielder Sotiris Ninis said.

Goalkeeper Michalis Sifakis indicated that Greece would go on the attack in their next game as they bid for a place in the quarter-final stage.

"We've studied our opponents. We look at the opener as losing two points as much as earning one. We are now chasing a win on Tuesday," Sifakis said after Sunday's training session.

"Russia now have a significant advantage because of the goals they scored. So the group is open for the three other teams. What counts for us is to beat the Czechs."

On Friday, Santos brought on promising youngsters Kyriakos Papadopoulos in defence and attacking midfielder Costas Fortounis, after Papastathopoulos was sent off. The move maintained an attack-minded line-up despite being a goal down, but forcing Karagounis and Yiannis Maniatis to cover the space in midfield.

Attacking midfielder Yiannis Fetfatzidis, who didn't play on Friday, said he expects Santos to stick to his tactics used in the second half against Poland.

"It's not a small thing to be at a third successive European Championship," the 21-year-old Fetfatzidis said. "We could have got three points in the opener but that didn't happen. I think we will improve and get out of the group."