Russia’s Fabio Capello claimed he was forced to pick an ageing squad for the FIFA World Cup because local coaches do not play youngsters.
Capello’s final squad for Brazil 2014 has an average age of 27 years and 357 days – including eight players in their 30s – putting it in the top 10 for the upcoming World Cup.
But the Italian coach has claimed Russia are ‘oldies but goldies’ and added he would have happily selected more young players if coaches in the Russian Premier League gave them a chance at club level.
“Unfortunately we have already been discussing this. Until coaches and rules don’t let the youngsters play, for me it will be impossible to call them up. They never play,” Capello said.
“But I put a lot of trust in this squad of mine.”
Capello cut four players aged 25 or younger from his preliminary 30-man squad, including Russian-based trio Pavel Mogilevets (Rubin Kazan), Yuri Gazinskiy (Krasnodar) and Artem Dzyuba (Rostov).
Mogilevets played just 11 league games last season, while fellow midfielder Gazinskiy made 29 appearances and Rostov striker Dzyuba notched scored 17 goals in 28 matches.
The youngsters in the final squad who are most likely to get action in Brazil are Alan Dzagoev (CSKA Moscow), Aleksandr Kokorin (Dynamo Moscow) and Oleg Shatov (Zenit St Petersburg), who are all 23.
CSKA winger Dzagoev was involved 18 times in the RPL last season, scoring three goals, while Dynamo striker Kokorin played 22 matches and scored 10 goals.
Shatov played 22 games in midfield for Zenit.
Russia will complete their World Cup preparations with a friendly against Morocco on Saturday, having already accounted for Slovakia 1-0 and drawing 1-1 with Norway.
Captain Roman Shirokov did not play in either of those matches as he continues to struggle with an Achilles injury he suffered in April and the Russian media believe the performances of Capello’s team have shown they cannot succeed without the 32-year-old midfielder.
But Shirokov rejected claims he is ‘irreplaceable’.
“I don’t feel irreplaceable at all. We’ve got players who can easily replace me,” he said.
“It may not be visible at the moment because the team isn’t playing to our full potential and we lack some freshness. But as soon as it appears, you’ll see that replacements are available.”