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Krueger keeps options open

Krueger is hoping to bounce back from his Olympic disappointment Keystone

Switzerland ice hockey coach Ralph Krueger has called up no less than 63 players for pre-world championship warm-up camps in Switzerland and the Czech Republic.

The massive squad includes seven goalkeepers, 23 defenders and 33 forwards although only 23 players will actually make it to the world championships, which get underway in Sweden in late April.

Krueger gave two reasons for the squad’s size. Firstly, the semi-finals and finals of the Swiss league playoffs are set to clash with at least the first two weeks of the warm-up, meaning that many of the players selected will not be available until week three.

Secondly, Krueger said he wanted to take a look at some of the players who he thinks will make it into future Swiss teams.

Andreas Camenzind, Marc Heberlein, Beat Gerber, Steve Hirschi, Witali Lachmatow, Reto Kobach, Sébastien Reuille, Fabian Stephan, Alain Reist and Matthias Wüst are some of the youngsters being a first chance to shine.

Zeiter recalled

Zurich Lions captain Michel Zeiter has been recalled to the national squad, after having been dropped by Krueger ahead of Switzerland’s disappointing Olympic campaign.

The 27-year-old forward has only recently returned to action for his club after a serious accident in which his throat was slashed by an opponent’s blade. The player’s resilience now seems to have impressed the national coach.

“After a serious accident like the one Michel had, players tend to come back even stronger,” reckoned Krueger.

No return for von Arx and Jenni

Unsurprisingly, Krueger has not offered a similar international return to former Swiss captain Reto von Arx or Marcel Jenni. The two players were sent home early from the Olympics after they went out on all-night drinking binge, and have not been recalled to the latest squad.

Players whose clubs are knocked out before the play-off semi-finals will meet on March 25 in Davos for the start of the international warm-up. The following week will see the squad head to Mlada Boleslav for two friendly matches against the Czechs.

On April 6 the team are then set to return to Switzerland in time for two home friendlies against Finland.

Two last warm-up matches against Slovakia are then planned before Krueger’s final squad make their way to the world championships.

swissinfo with agencies

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR