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Fit-again Muller, Barnetta boost the hosts

Switzerland is handed a major boost with Tranquillo Barnetta and defender Patrick Muller being declared fit for Saturday's tournament opener against the Czech Republic.
Agencies | By HT Correspondent, Feusisberg (switzerland)
UPDATED ON JUN 06, 2008 01:00 AM IST

Euro 2008 co-hosts Switzerland were handed a major boost on Wednesday when playmaker Tranquillo Barnetta and experienced defender Patrick Muller were declared fit for Saturday's tournament opener against the Czech Republic.

“Everyone is fully fit, (head coach) Kobi Kuhn will have 23 players to pick from for Saturday” squad doctor Roland Grossen reported at the Swiss squad’s training base in the foothills of the Alps.

Muller may still be short of full match fitness as he continues his comeback from a long lay-off following cruciate ligament surgery and Kuhn will not make a final decision on his line-up until Friday.

But Arsenal centreback Philippe Senderos revealed that he was anticipating that Muller, who plays for French champions Lyon, would be alongside him against the Czechs.

“Patrick has been training hard and he has played the last two games with me,” Senderos said. “It depends on the coach and how Patrick feels, but I think he'll be there.” The importance of Muller’s vast experience to Switzerland was underlined by Borussia Dortmund striker Alexander Frei. “Even at 90 percent, he is a player of international class,” Frei said. Barnetta played down concerns over an ankle injury that prevented him from training for two weeks in the build-up to the tournament.

Czech Pospech ruled out

Czech Republic defender Zdenek Pospech has been ruled out of Saturday's opening match, while captain Tomas Ujfalusi has a slight abdominal strain but should be fit. “Pospech has a virus, he has had a high temperature for the past two days. He will not be fit for Saturday's match," team spokesman Lukas Tucek said on Thursday. Agencies

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