Pandemic restrictions limit 4 Czechs to 1 of 3 qualifiers


PRAGUE — Four Czech Republic players from Germany’s Bundesliga are available to play only one of the opening three qualifiers this month for the 2022 World Cup due to coronavirus restrictions.

Werder Bremen goalkeeper Jiri Pavlenka, Bayer Leverkusen striker Patrik Schick, Hertha Berlin midfielder Vladimir Darida and Hoffenheim defender Pavel Kaderabek will join the team only for the first game against Estonia on March 24 in Tallinn before returning to their clubs.

They won’t play against Belgium on March 27 in Prague and against Wales in Cardiff on March 30. The Czech Republic says the clubs requested the players return immediately after the Tallinn game so they will come out of Germany’s mandatory two-week quarantine earlier.

The West Ham duo of midfielder Tomas Soucek and defender Vladimir Coufal are among the unusually high number of 27 players named for those games on Tuesday.

The 20-year-old Slavia Prague defender David Zima could make his national debut.

Belarus is also in Europe’s qualifying Group E.

Czech Republic:

Goalkeepers: Jiri Pavlenka (Werder Bremen), Ondrej Kolar (Slavia Prague), Tomas Vaclik (Sevilla), Ales Mandous (Olomouc).

Defenders: Ondrej Celustka (Sparta Prague), Jan Boril (Slavia Prague), Pavel Kaderabek (Hoffenheim), Tomas Holes (Slavia Prague), Tomas Kalas (Bristol), Ales Mateju (Brescia), Vladimir Coufal (West Ham), David Zima (Slavia Prague).

Midfielders: Jakub Jankto (Sampdoria), Antonin Barak (Verona), Tomas Soucek (West Ham), Lukas Masopust (Slavia Prague), Alex Kral (Spartak Moscow), Vladimir Darida (Hertha Berlin), Lukas Provod (Slavia Prague), David Pavelka (Sparta Prague), Lukas Pesek (Liberec), Tomas Malinsky (Mlada Boleslav).

Forwards: Michael Krmencik (PAOK Thessaloniki), Tomas Pekhart (Legia Warsaw), Patrik Schick (Leverkusen), Matej Vydra Burnley).

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