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FInals on Hitzfeld´s mind

Ottmar Hitzfeld may experiment with the Switzerland team in Saturday’s match against England, but reaching Euro 2012 remains the priority.

Switzerland come into the Group G fixture without two of their most experienced players following the sudden departures of Marco Streller and record goalscorer Alexander Frei.

The pair retired after receiving stinging criticism for their part in a 0-0 draw with Bulgaria in April.

The loss of the veterans means Hitzfeld could choose to hand a debut to promising Basel midfielder Granit Xhaka.

Teenager winger Xherdan Shaqiri, who has only has seven caps to his name, may also start at Wembley.

“Every change in a team can turn into an opportunity for players to show themselves,” Hitzfeld said.

“It doesn’t count if a player is young or old. It all depends on his performance, his potential and what he can do. I have no problem to throw them in.”

While handing opportunities to young players will surely prove fruitful for Switzerland in the long-term, Hitzfeld insists the priority remains challenging for second place and a playoff berth.

Switzerland are third in the group, six points behind joint-leaders England and Montenegro.

“It’s always important for a coach to decide on the short-term and-long term – one factor doesn’t block out the other,” Hitzfeld said.

“I still believe in qualification for 2012 even if we now depend on the results of the Montenegro team. I also have eyes on the future.”

“We must show what we have done in training and bring these performances on to the Wembley pitch.”

“We also like to show our physical presence on the pitch to the English players.”

“What counts is that Swiss team shows up very well, shows a new face, a new spirit. That we play with courage and a cute way.”

Sat 4 June, 2011
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