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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Jun 21, 2006

Bruckner will wait for Baros fitness test

HAMBURG, June 21 (Reuters) - The Czech Republic plan to wait before deciding whether striker Milan Baros will be fit enough to start against Italy in Thursday's Group E match, coach Karel Brueckner said on Wednesday.

Baros missed the previous two World Cup games with a foot injury but has resumed full training, prompting optimism that he might be able to take part against the Italians.

Towering striker Jan Koller remains doubtful with the hamstring injury he picked up in the 3-0 opening win over the U.S. although Brueckner refused to rule him out.

'They are part of the squad and in Baros's case we will decide after training (on Wednesday), ' said Brueckner, 'As for Koller that is a matter for us to know,' added the Czech coach.

He is not expected to reveal his decision on Baros until shortly before kickoff.

Brueckner, whose team lost 2-0 to Ghana in the second game, is also missing striker Vratislav Lokvenc and key defender Tomas Ujfalusi who are suspended.

Defender David Rozehnal said that despite the absentees the Czechs remained a strong squad capable of taking on the Italians.

'Although we have the injuries and suspensions, we have a squad of 23 players exactly for that reason. Everyone in the squad is of equal value and we hope to show that tomorrow,' said the defender.

'I'd like to stay in Germany a bit longer and I certainly don't want to go home tomorrow,' added Rozehnal.

The Czechs need a win to guarantee a place in the second round -- they are a point behind Italy and level with Ghana on three points. Brueckner said keeping it tight at the back is his priority.

'The basic is not to concede a goal -- that is the foundation for any game. We can't repeat the mistakes we made against Ghana that have made things difficult for us. It will be hard to come back to come back and score twice against Italy,' he said.

The Czechs never recovered after conceding a goal in only the second minute against Ghana.

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