MOSCOW, March 7 (Reuters) - Former Russia captain Andrei Arshavin and experienced striker Pavel Pogrebnyak have been overlooked again by coach Fabio Capello for this month’s World Cup qualifier away to Northern Ireland.
Capello, however, kept faith in striker Fyodor Smolov and midfielder Oleg Shatov, naming the young Anzhi Makhachkala duo in his 27-man squad on Thursday for the Group F match in Belfast on March 22.
Russia also face Brazil in a friendly at Chelsea’s Stamford Bridge ground in London three days later.
Shatov, 22, scored on his international debut, helping Russia to a 2-0 win over Iceland in last month’s friendly having been called up to the national team at the last minute after several senior players could not make a trip.
Smolov, who is only a few months older than his team mate, also scored on his Russia debut, finding the net after just nine minutes in a 2-2 draw against the United States in November’s friendly.
Capello has not been afraid of blooding players into the ageing squad after replacing Dick Advocaat as Russia boss following the team’s poor showing at Euro 2012, dropping both Arsenal forward Arshavin, who has seen little action for his London club this season, and Reading striker Pogrebnyak.
The Russians have made a flying start in their 2014 World Cup qualifying campaign under the former England manager, winning all four of their matches in Group F.
Capello said he would trim his squad to 23 players next week.
Goalkeepers: Igor Akinfeyev (CSKA Moscow), Anton Shunin (Dynamo Moscow), Vladimir Gabulov (Anzhi Makhachkala), Sergei Ryzhykov (Rubin Kazan)
Defenders: Alexander Anyukov (Zenit St Petersburg), Alexei Berezutsky (CSKA Moscow), Vasily Berezutsky (CSKA Moscow), Sergei Ignashevich (CSKA Moscow), Kirill Nababkin (CSKA Moscow), Andrei Yeshchenko (Anzhi Makhachkala), Arseny Logashov (Anzhi Makhachkala), Dmitry Kombarov (Spartak Moscow), Vladimir Granat (Dynamo Moscow)
Midfielders: Igor Denisov (Zenit St Petersburg), Roman Shirokov (Zenit St Petersburg), Vladimir Bystrov (Zenit St Petersburg), Viktor Faizulin (Zenit St Petersburg), Alan Dzagoyev (CSKA Moscow), Denis Glushakov (Lokomotiv Moscow), Alexander Samedov (Lokomotiv Moscow), Yuri Zhirkov (Anzhi Makhachkala), Oleg Shatov (Anzhi Makhachkala), Oleg Ivanov (Terek Grozny)
Forwards: Alexander Kerzhakov (Zenit St Petersburg), Alexander Kokorin (Dynamo Moscow), Fyodor Smolov (Anzhi Makhachkala), Maxim Grigoryev (Lokomotiv Moscow). (Reporting by Gennady Fyodorov; Editing by Alison Wildey)