Serbia's Krstajic ignores the stars

Belgrade: Serbia coach Mladen Krstajic named several uncapped prospects in his provisional 27-man World Cup squad on Thursday at the expense of stalwarts who failed to impress in friendlies after they qualified for the 32-nation tournament.

Defenders Nikola Milenkovic and Milan Rodic have been preferred to full backs Dusan Basta and Ivan Obradovic, while 20-year-old striker Luka Jovic earned his spot after an impressive season at German Cup winners Eintracht Frankfurt on loan from Benfica.

Red Star Belgrade's 22-year-old winger Nemanja Radonjic, who made his debut in a friendly against South Korea in November, is one of three home-based players alongside Rodic and first-choice goalkeeper Vladimir Stojkovic.

Centre back Matija Nastasic is also in contention despite facing a race against time to recover from a long-term knee injury for the June 14-July 15 tournament in Russia.

"Nastasic is a key defender and we are hopeful that he will be fit," Krstajic told a news conference.

"He will have a medical on Saturday and after that we will know whether he can make the final cut or not.

"There are no sour grapes as personal egos have taken a back seat in order to put together the best squad and I am confident this group of players can make an impact in Russia."

The Serbians, who qualified for their first major tournament since the 2010 World Cup, will play warm-up matches in the Austrian city of Graz against Chile on June 4 and Bolivia five days later.

They start their World Cup Group E campaign against Costa Rica in Samara on June 17 followed by games against Switzerland in Kaliningrad on June 22 and Brazil in Moscow on June 27.


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