07.10.2013 15:38 h

Football: Czechs to miss Rosicky against Malta, Bulgaria

Steven Gerrard
Steven Gerrard

The Czech Republic will miss injured Arsenal midfielder and team captain Tomas Rosicky in their World Cup 2014 qualifiers in Malta and Bulgaria, Czech interim coach Josef Pesice told reporters on Monday.

"Arsenal have asked us to excuse Rosicky for health reasons. We have called up Borek Dockal" from Sparta Prague to replace him, Pesice said.

The injury-prone Rosicky, 33, limped off the pitch with a calf problem during a qualifier against Italy on September 10 in Turin, where a 2-1 loss all but ended Czech hopes of qualifying for Brazil.

He recovered to play against Napoli in the Champions League last week and against West Bromwich in the Premier League on Sunday.

"But Tomas wasn't completely fit after the game. (Arsenal manager) Arsene Wenger got in touch with me and we agreed not to take Tomas to the qualifiers," said Czech national team director Vladimir Smicer.

Facing Malta on October 11 and Bulgaria four days later, the Czech Republic are fourth in European qualifying Group B with nine points, trailing second-placed Bulgaria by four points with only two games to play.

Even if the Czechs clinched the second spot in the end, they would likely have the fewest points of all second-placed teams, barring their way to the November play-offs.

Pesice was named interim head coach after Michal Bilek quit the job following the loss to Italy.