SPORTS

Santos brings in new blood as well as Dallas star

Stefanos Athanasiadis and Stefanos Kotsolis were the new call-ups to the national squad for the games against Malta and Ecuador in early June, but the real surprise came in the announcement of the inclusion of Greek-American George John in the squad for prematch training ahead of the friendly against Ecuador in New York.

The second-generation Greek central defender will take part in the national team’s training session in New York but will not join the on-pitch action in the June 7 match against Ecuador.

John, 24, issued a statement through his agent, Ted Philipakos, suggesting that «it is a tremendous honor to be invited to join the Greek national team. I am looking forward to meeting the team in New York. As a new player, I need to use that time to get to know the staff and the players.»

The FC Dallas player is also eligible to represent the United States. He had been invited to a Team USA training camp last January but was unable to attend due to injury.

The injuries to goalkeepers Costas Chalkias and Alexandros Tzorvas as well as the long-term absence of Michalis Sifakis have forced Greece coach Fernando Santos to bring in former Cardiff and Coventry keeper Dimi Konstantopoulos, as well as Panathinaikos substitute goalie Kotsolis.

There are also injury worries in attack for the Greece coach ahead of the Euro 2012 qualifier against Malta at home, as Giorgos Samaras and Nikos Liberopoulos will have to sit the June 4 match out, which led Santos to invite uncapped PAOK striker Athanasiadis.

In defense Sokratis Papastathopoulos and Giorgos Tzavellas have also been sidelined due to their suspension.

The full squad Santos has called up consists of the following players:

Goalkeepers: Dimi Konstantopoulos (Kerkyra), Stefanos Kotsolis (Panathinaikos)

Defenders: Loukas Vintra, Nikos Spyropoulos (both Panathinaikos), Avraam Papadopoulos, Vassilis Torosidis (both Olympiakos), Vangelis Moras (Bologna), Kyriakos Papadopoulos (Schalke)

Midfielders: Costas Katsouranis, Giorgos Karagounis, Sotiris Ninis, Lazaros Christodoulopoulos (all Panathinaikos), Alexandros Tziolis (Santander), Pantelis Kafes (AEK), Giorgos Fotakis (PAOK), Panayiotis Kone (Brescia), Yiannis Fetfatzidis (Olympiakos)

Forwards: Dimitris Salpigidis, Stefanos Athanasiadis (both PAOK), Costas Mitroglou (Olympiakos)