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Czechs name injured players in World Cup squad

PRAGUE, May 15 (Reuters) - Czech Republic coach Karel Brueckner included several injured players in his 23-man World Cup squad on Monday.

His biggest concern is influential midfielder Vladimir Smicer, who has a torn tendon in his leg but is still hoping to be fit for the Czechs' opener against the United States on June 12.

Striker Vratislav Lokvenc is recovering from a serious knee injury and is not fully fit, while key defender Zdenek Grygera of Ajax Amsterdam is also struggling with an injury.

Striker Jan Koller appears to be on course to play after a knee injury last September which kept him on the sidelines for months.

The towering striker headed home twice at the weekend for Borussia Dortmund in a 3-3 draw with Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich, his first full 90 minutes of play since surgery.

'As late as Friday and Saturday we were having our doctors examine players and we were still weighing various alternatives,' Brueckner told reporters in explaining his choices.

The Czechs made it to the Euro 2004 semi-finals before losing to eventual champions Greece and Brueckner has called on most of the same faces to guide his team through a tricky group stage in Germany that includes Italy, Ghana and the Americans.

'I believe that the peak of this team will come at the right time, at the World Cup. This team has its own character, its own face,' Brueckner said.

Omissions from that Euro 2004 squad were limited to defenders Tomas Huebschman and Rene Bolf, and midfielders Roman Tyce and Stepan Vachousek.

Radoslav Kovac, David Jarolim, Jan Polak and Jiri Stajner will take their place.

Goalkeepers: Jaromir Blazek (Sparta Prague), Petr Cech (Chelsea), Antonin Kinsky (Saturn Ramenskoye)

Defenders: Zdenek Grygera (Ajax Amsterdam), Marek Jankulovski (AC Milan), Martin Jiranek (Spartak Moscow), Radoslav Kovac (Spartak Moscow), Pavel Mares (Zenit St Petersburg), David Rozehnal (Paris St Germain), Tomas Ujfalusi (Fiorentina)

Midfielders: Tomas Galasek (Ajax Amsterdam), David Jarolim (Hamburg SV), Pavel Nedved (Juventus), Jaroslav Plasil (Monaco), Karel Poborsky (Ceske Budejovice), Jan Polak (Nuremberg), Tomas Rosicky (Borussia Dortmund), Vladimir Smicer (Girondins Bordeaux)

Forwards: Milan Baros (Aston Villa), Marek Heinz (Galatasaray), Jan Koller (Borussia Dortmund), Vratislav Lokvenc (Red Bull Salzburg), Jiri Stajner (Hanover 96).