MOSCOW, July 29 (R-Sport) – Russian Premier League leading scorer Artem Dzyuba has been called to Russia's preliminary football squad for next month's World Cup qualifier against Northern Ireland.
The Russian FA released the 34-man roster Monday, with the centerpiece appearing to be the scorching hot Dzyuba, who has notched up six goals in three games for FC Rostov, on loan from Spartak Moscow.
"When I joined Rostov, a lot of people said it would be unrealistic to get to the national team," the 6-foot-4 striker told R-Sport. "So it would be a little miracle if I make it on the final roster."
Coach Fabio Capello's team plays in Belfast on August 14. The match was originally scheduled for March but was put off because of heavy snow in the city.
Dzyuba last played for Russia in November, when he made his second cap in a 2-2 friendly draw against the United States. He was called up by Capello for the qualifier against Portugal in June, but ultimately missed the 1-0 away defeat due to a muscle spasm in his left thigh
This time, the Moscow native has a shot at replacing either starter Alexander Kokorin, who is recovering from an Achilles injury, or a struggling Alexander Kerzhakov, who has not scored in international or club play since November, on the attacking line.
Capello's squad contains several first-timers, including Spartak winger Pavel Yakovlev, a key member of the under-21 team at the European championship in Israel last month, and FC Krasnodar goalkeeper Alexander Filtsov. Midfielders Alexei Miranchuk, of Lokomotiv Moscow, Artur Yusupov, of Dynamo Moscow, and Rostov's Vitaly Dyakov also earned their first call ups.
The roster will be whittled to 23 players in the coming weeks.
Russia sit second in Group F on 12 points, just two points behind Portugal, but have two games in stock.
Goalkeepers: Igor Akinfeev (CSKA Moscow), Vladimir Gabulov (Anzhi Makhachkala), Sergei Ryzhikov (Rubin Kazan), Alexander Filtsov (FC Krasnodar).
Defenders: Alexander Anyukov (Zenit St. Petersburg), Vasily Berezutsky (CSKA), Sergei Ignashevich (CSKA), Kirill Nababkin (CSKA), Georgy Shchennikov (CSKA), Vladimir Granat (Dynamo Moscow), Alexei Kozlov (FC Kuban), Dmitry Kombarov (Spartak Moscow), Sergei Parshivlyuk (Spartak), Maxim Belyaev (Lokomotiv Moscow), Vitaly Dyakov (FC Rostov).
Midfielders: Vladimir Bystrov (Zenit), Viktor Faizulin (Zenit), Roman Shirokov (Zenit), Alexander Samedov (Lokomotiv), Dmitry Tarasov (Lokomotiv), Alexander Miranchuk (Lokomotiv), Alan Dzagoev (CSKA), Denis Glushakov (Spartak),Pavel Yakovlev (Spartak), Alexander Ryazantsev (Rubin), Igor Denisov (Anzhi), Oleg Shatov (Anzhi), Alexei Ionov (Anzhi), Artur Yusupov (Dynamo).
Forwards: Alexander Kerzhakov (Zenit), Alexander Kokorin (Anzhi), Artem Dzyuba (Rostov), Fedor Smolov (Dynamo), Denis Cheryshev (Real Madrid).