By Phil Caplan, Date: 28/4/13
European Shield leaders Russia have announced a familiar squad as they attempt to consolidate their position at the head of the table. Three wins in 2012 sees them go into the reverse fixtures with a four point advantage.
They travel to Belgrade on 25th May where they can expect an uncompromising reception from the locals. Having edged Serbia by a point in Naro-Fominsk last September, long-serving player-coach Eduard Ososkov knows that his preparation must leave nothing to chance.
â€œWe have already selected the squad to travel to Serbia,â€ he said and his preparation will be bolstered by two trial games between the national squad and a Moscow select ahead of the trip.
Only two players who did not participate in the 2012 round of matches are brought into the squad, MGPUâ€™s Sergey Beliavskiy and veteran St Petersburg three-quarter Grigory Esin. Ososkov is considering blooding new players at home against Germany in August, depending on Russiaâ€™s results in Serbia and then Italy, in June.
â€œAll of our players are working really hard,â€ he continued. â€œI hope that weâ€™ll be able to put on a good show. We know the Serbian team pretty well â€“ and the problems they can give us were demonstrated clearly in Naro-Fominsk. We won narrowly last time, but thereâ€™s a lot of room for improvement. Itâ€™s going to be a tough game for both sides.â€
RUSSIA 19-MAN TRAIN-ON SQUAD
Sergey Beliavskiy, Alexey Mikhaylov, Victor Tolstov, Sergey Zuev (MGPU, Moscow), Grigory Esin (Nevskaya Zastava, St Petersburg), Dmitriy Bratko, Igor Chuprin, Vadim Fedchuk, (Storm), Petr Botnarash, Rustam Bulanov, Sergey Gaponov, Anatoly Grigorev, Sergey Konstantinov, Aleksandr Lysokon, Alexey Nikolaev, Eduard Ososkov, Andrey Sevostianov, Maksim Suchkov, Vladimir Vlasyuk (Vereya RLFC)