28.05.2024 15:58 h

Coufal back in Czech team for pre-Euro camp

Czech Republic coach Ivan Hasek announced Tuesday a 26-player squad for a training camp ahead of Euro 2024, which includes West Ham defender Vladimir Coufal on his return after a disciplinary ban.

The Czechs are heading to a training camp in Austria on June 2 before facing Malta on June 7 and North Macedonia on June 10 in pre-Euro friendlies.

"This is a team for the camp, but I believe that all who will take part in the camp will be in shape to go to the Euro too," Hasek told reporters.

The final Euro 2024 squad must be announced by June 7.

Since his appointment in January, Hasek has so far snubbed Coufal, Sparta Prague striker Jan Kuchta and Aris Thessaloniki defender Jakub Brabec.

The three were caught in a night club ahead of the qualifying decider against Moldova in November, when the Czechs were led by Jaroslav Silhavy.

"All the other players supported them. There was no reason to reject them," said Hasek, who has called up Coufal and Kuchta but preferred other defensive options to Brabec.

Hasek said he had named 26 players as more "would be pretty tough to handle in training".

UEFA raised the maximum number of players per team from 23 to 26 earlier this month, and some teams have announced larger squads.

"I believe in the players we have named," said the 60-year-old coach.

"Our goal is to advance from the group, that's what matters."

The Czech attacking line will rely on Leverkusen striker Patrik Schick, who was the top scorer at Euro 2020 with five goals alongside Cristiano Ronaldo.

Hasek also selected two uncapped players, midfielder Lukas Cerv and goalkeeper Vitezslav Jaros, and 12 of the squad members are aged 24 or under.

"We are not only looking at Euro 2024 but we also want to reach the 2026 World Cup," said Hasek.

"Some players need to gain experience and get used to the atmosphere."

The Czechs face Portugal on June 18, Georgia four days later and Turkey on June 26 in Group F of the tournament, which starts in Germany on June 14.

The Czechs, who reached the quarter-finals at Euro 2020, have not missed a single Euro since the Czech Republic became independent in 1993.

Czech Republic squad:

Goalkeepers: Vitezslav Jaros (Graz/AUT), Matej Kovar (Leverkusen/GER), Jindrich Stanek (Slavia Prague)

Defenders: Vladimir Coufal (West Ham/ENG), David Doudera (Slavia Prague), Tomas Holes (Slavia Prague), Robin Hranac (Viktoria Plzen), David Jurasek (Hoffenheim/GER), Ladislav Krejci (Sparta Prague), Martin Vitik (Sparta Prague), Tomas Vlcek (Slavia Prague), David Zima (Slavia Prague)

Midfielders: Antonin Barak (Fiorentina/ITA), Vaclav Cerny (Wolfsburg/GER), Lukas Cerv (Viktoria Plzen), Matej Jurasek (Slavia Prague), Ondrej Lingr (Feyenoord/NED), Lukas Provod (Slavia Prague), Michal Sadilek (Twente/NED), Tomas Soucek (West Ham/ENG), Pavel Sulc (Viktoria Plzen)

Forwards: Tomas Chory (Viktoria Plzen), Mojmir Chytil (Slavia Prague), Adam Hlozek (Leverkusen/GER), Jan Kuchta (Sparta Prague), Patrik Schick (Leverkusen/GER)