Greece's Ranieri drops Gekas, shakes up attack for European qualifiers

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ATHENS, Greece — Greece coach Claudio Ranieri has dropped veteran striker Fanis Gekas from his attacking lineup, and called up rookie Nikos Karelis for European Championship qualifiers against Finland and Northern Ireland.

The Greeks lost their Group F opener 1-0 at home to Romania last month. Ranieri recalled the 34-year-old Gekas to his provisional squad but dropped him Friday in favor of the 22-year-old striker Karelis.

"This is a big step for my career, and I was deliegted to get the call," Keralis said.

Ranieri also stuck with in-form PAOK striker Stefanos Athanasiadis who failed to make Greece's World Cup squad earlier this year.

PAOK defender Giannis Skondras was named as a late replacement for Avraam Papadopoulos, after the Turkey-based player suffered a cheekbone injury.

Earlier Friday, World Cup captain Giorgos Karagounis was formally presented as a coaching assistant for the national team, after announcing the end of his club career.

He will travel with his former teammates to Finland for the Oct. 11 match. Greece hosts Northern Ireland three days later.


Squad:

Goalkeepers: Orestis Karnezis (Udinese), Panagiotis Glykos (PAOK), Stefanos Kapino (Mainz), Sokratis Dioudis (Brugge).

Defenders: Vassilis Torosidis (Roma), Sokratis Papastathopoulos (Borussia Dortmund), Loukas Vyntra (Levante), Giannis Skondras (PAOK), Vangelis Moras (Verona), Kostas Manolas (Roma), Kostas Stafylidis (Fulham), Jose Holebas (Roma).

Midfielders: Giannis Maniatis (Olympiakos), Alexandros Tziolis (PAOK), Panagiotis Kone (Udinese), Kostas Fortounis (Olympiakos), Andreas Samaris (Benfica), Panagiotis Tachtsidis (Verona), Lazaros Christodoulopoulos (Verona), Charis Mavrias (Sunderland).

Forwards: Dimitris Salpingidis (PAOK), Georgios Samaras (West Bromwich Albion), Kostas Mitroglou (Olympiakos), Stefanos Athanasiadis (PAOK), Nikos Karelis (Panathinaikos).

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