Russia head coach Fabio Capello has claimed striker Pavel Pogrebnyak is not good enough to play international football at this time.
Pogrebnyak has scored four goals in eight games for Reading this season but was left out of Russia’s squad for their 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifiers against Portugal and Azerbaijan.
Capello believes the 28-year-old striker is inferior to the four attackers he has selected for the upcoming qualifying matches.
“The players in the national team squad are the best at the moment,” Capello said.
Russia’s striking options for Friday’s game against Portugal and the visit of Azerbaijan on Tuesday are Aleksandr Kerzhakov, Aleksandr Kokorin, Artyom Dzyuba and Maksim Grigoryev.
The 196-centimetre Dzyuba has seemingly been selected ahead of direct rival Pogrebnyak (188cm).
While Dzyuba has yet to score for Spartak Moscow this season and has only played one match for Russia, Capello sees the 24-year-old forward as a future star.
“I made my choice in favour of Dzyuba because I think that player could adapt into an excellent option in attack,” Capello said.
“If Dzyuba’s in the squad and Pogrebnyak isn’t, that’s my choice.”
The 66-year-old Italian has yet to pick Pogrebnyak since taking over as Russia’s head coach after Euro 2012.
However, Capello has not ruled out selecting Pogrebnyak, who has scored eight goals in 33 matches for Russia, at some point in the future.
“I know him very well,” Capello said.
“I’ve seen his last three matches.
“I know this player offers some great possibilities.”