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By ESPN Staff

Queiroz wants players to fight

Portugal coach Carlos Queiroz has reminded his players there are still squad places up for grabs as they begin preparations for their upcoming World Cup qualifiers with a friendly against Finland.

Their Group One qualifying campaign has not gone to plan so far with the Portuguese third in the standings following one win in four matches.

With two points to make up on leaders Denmark and Hungary, Queiroz is aware the meeting with Finland will be key in their build-up to the next qualifier against Sweden in March.

"The most important thing is the fight for a World Cup place, so 16 or 17 of the players here will form the basis of my squad for the qualifiers,'' the coach said.

"But we will also use the other players so they can integrate in the squad and gain international experience. We won't close the door on any players for future selection as they could yet prove vital.''

Eliseu, Goncalo Brandao and Orlando Sa will be eager to get some playing time after earning their first senior call-ups.

Finland coach Stuart Baxter has named a 20-man squad for the match in Lisbon with Tomi Petrescu and Juha Hakola in line for their first senior caps.

Baxter will be hoping for a better performance than the one against Japan last week in which an inexperienced Finnish side were thrashed 5-1.

Denmark will take on Greece in Athens brimming with confidence following their flying start to qualifying Group One, in which they remain unbeaten.

Striker Niklas Bendtner admits the Scandinavians have their sights firmly set on claiming a place in South Africa next summer.

"We're going all out for the World Cup and if we play as we have in our recent matches, I see no reason why we can't win those matches we still have to play,'' said the Arsenal man.

Simon Kjaer is expected to be given his chance in the Danish defence following Martin Laursen's recent retirement from international football.

Greece will be no pushovers with Otto Rehhagel's men also top of their qualifying pool, although a 2-1 home defeat to Switzerland last October allowed their rivals in Group Two to close the gap.

Sweden welcome back Erik Edman for their friendly against Austria with the defender in Lars Lagerback's squad for the first time since November 2007.

Edman has come through a difficult spell of injury and Lagerback said: "It's a chance for us to see how his form is.''

Romania take on Euro 2008 quarter-finalists Croatia desperate for a good display ahead of their next qualifier against Serbia.

The Romanians lie a lowly fifth in Group Seven, but injuries have not helped coach Victor Piturca with experienced duo Adrian Mutu and Cristian Chivu out of the Croatia clash.

Turkey will pit their wits against African opposition when they take on Ivory Coast, while Switzerland entertain Bulgaria and Belgium face Slovenia.

Wales, third in Group Four, will face Poland in Cardiff, Israel meet Hungary and Iceland entertain Liechtenstein.

Also, Andorra take on Lithuania, Estonia face Kazakhstan, FYR Macedonia play Moldova and Latvia meet Armenia.


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