Injury-plagued defender Kyriakos Papadopoulos has been recalled to Greece’s overhauled national team for next Sunday’s European Championship qualifier in Hungary.
New Greece coach Sergio Markarian included the 23-year-old Bayer Leverkusen player, who has been troubled by a serious knee injury over the past two seasons, on his 24-man roster.
Greece has only one point from four matches and is in last place in Group F.
Markarian also recalled veteran Costas Katsouranis, who returned to Greece in late December to sign for Atromitos after a three-month spell in India.
Greece has struggled following the departure of coach Fernando Santos, who took it to the second round last year at the World Cup in Brazil. His successor, Claudio Ranieri, was fired in November after a loss to the Faroe Islands.
Santos is currently coaching his native Portugal.
The 70-year-old Markarian, an Uruguayan who coached Ionikos. Panathinaikos and Iraklis during his five years in Greece, has vowed to rescue the reputation of a country that has been present at nearly all major tournaments since winning the European Championship in 2004.
“It would be a big step back if we don’t make it to France,” Markarian said this month. “I realize how difficult the task is this time, but we will try hard. I hope we have the fans with us so that we can give Greeks some joy as they are going through such difficult times.”
Markarian overhauled Ranieri’s squad, dropping striker Dimitris Salpingidis for Asteras Tripolis forward Yiannis Yianniotas. He also brought in PAS Giannina goalkeeper Markos Vellidis and midfielder Michalis Bakakis, who plays for second-division club AEK Athens.
Olympiakos captain Yiannis Maniatis remains sidelined after his right-knee surgery.
Romania currently leads Group F with 10 points, followed by Northern Ireland with nine.
Goalkeepers: Orestis Karnezis (Udinese), Stefanos Kapino (Mainz), Markos Vellidis (Giannina)
Defenders: Vassilis Torosidis (Roma), Kyriakos Papadopoulos (Bayer Leverkusen), Costas Manolas (Roma), Jose Holebas (Roma), Dimitris Siovas (Olympiakos), Sokratis Papastathopoulos (Borussia Dortmund), Vangelis Moras (Verona), Costas Stafylidis (Fulham)
Midfielders: Panayiotis Tachtsidis (Verona), Tassos Lagos (Panathinaikos), Costas Katsouranis (Atromitos), Costas Fortounis (Olympiakos), Michalis Bakakis (AEK Athens), Andreas Samaris (Benfica), Lazaros Chrstidoulopoulos (Verona), Yiannis Fetfatzidis (AC Chievo), Panayiotis Kone (Udinese)
Forwards: Costas Mitroglou (Olympiakos), Nikos Karelis (Panathinaikos), Stefanos Athanasiadis (PAOK), Yiannis Yianniotas (Asteras). [AP]