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 Posted by ESPN Staff
May 9, 2006

Lagerback rings changes in Sweden squad

STOCKHOLM, May 9 (Reuters) - Juventus's Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Barcelona's Henrik Larsson among six strikers named in Sweden's World Cup squad on Tuesday while right back Alexander Ostlund was dropped in a defensive shake-up.

Ostlund, who plays for Southampton, was heavily criticised after Sweden lost 3-0 to Ireland in a friendly in March.

Coach Lars Lagerback has brought in IFK Gothenburg's Karl Svensson and Fredrik Stenman, who has had a strong first season with Bayer Leverkusen but has never played for Sweden.

Mikael Nilsson, who has had little time on the pitch for Greek side Panathinaikos, was also among the defenders.

Nilsson has played in midfield and defence for Sweden and shared the right back role with Ostlund during Euro 2004.

Another surprise was Fredriksborg's Rami Shaaban as one of three goalkeepers, with Eddie Gustafsson of Ham-Kam left out. First choice keeper Andreas Isaksson has retained his place.

Shaaban played three games for Arsenal in 2002 before breaking his leg in training later that year after which he never played for the north London side again.

Sweden are in Group B with Paraguay, England and Trinidad & Tobago at the finals in Germany starting on June 9.

'It is quite easy to pick out 15 to 16 players but we had most discussion about the goalkeepers and the backs,' Lagerback told a news conference.

Defence was seen as Lagerback's main problem, although he said he was satisfied with his choices.

'Alexander (Ostlund) has changed clubs and has had an up and down spring in Southampton,' Lagerback was quoted as saying by the daily Expressen newspaper.

'We have followed him but think that we now have better alternatives in Niclas (Alexandersson) and Mikael (Nilsson).'

There were few surprises among the other defenders in the squad, who include Erik Edman of Stade Rennes, Petter Hansson of Heerenveen and Olof Mellberg of Aston Villa.

The forwards called up were also as expected with Ibrahimovic and Larsson being joined by Marcus Allback of FC Copenhagen, Johan Elmander of Brondby, Mattias Jonson of Djurgarden and Markus Rosenberg of Ajax Amsterdam.

Fredrik Ljungberg of Arsenal and Kim Kallstrom of Stade Rennes were among Lagerback's midfield selections.

Goalkeepers: Andreas Isaksson (Stade Rennes), John Alvbage (Viborg), Rami Shaaban (Fredrikstad)

Defenders: Erik Edman (Stade Rennes), Petter Hansson (Heerenveen), Teddy Lucic (BK Hacken), Olof Mellberg (Aston Villa), Karl Svensson (IFK Gothenburg), Mikael Nilsson (Panathinaikos), Fredrik Stenman (Bayer Leverkusen)

Midfielders: Daniel Andersson (Malmo), Niclas Alexandersson (IFK Gothenburg), Kim Kallstrom (Stade Rennes), Tobias Linderoth (FC Copenhagen), Christian Wilhelmsson (Anderlecht), Anders Svensson (Elfsborg), Fredrik Ljungberg (Arsenal)

Forwards: Marcus Allback (FC Copenhagen), Johan Elmander (Brondby), Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Juventus), Mattias Jonson (Djurgarden), Henrik Larsson (Barcelona), Markus Rosenberg (Ajax Amsterdam)

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