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Wicky out for World Cup qualifiers

The Swiss team are in training for Saturday's crucial match Keystone

Switzerland will have to do without experienced midfielder Raphaël Wicky in their crunch World Cup qualifying matches against Yugoslavia and Luxembourg. The 24-year-old Atletico Madrid player has been ruled out after injuring his knee in training.

Wicky, who has played 35 times for Switzerland, had originally described the knock on his knee as “nothing serious”, but an examination on Wednesday revealed some cartilage damage.

Other than the absence of Wicky, new Swiss coach Köbi Kuhn is able to call on a full-strength side for Saturday’s home match against Yugoslavia. Grasshoppers defender Bruno Berner is suffering from a slight cold but should be available for a game which Switzerland need to win if they are to keep their slim World Cup hopes alive.

Kuhn has persuaded veteran forward Kubilay Türkyilmaz to delay his international retirement and the country’s all-time top scorer could now pair up with Stéphane Chapuisat to form a strike-force with a combined age of 66.

Kuhn is yet to announce his line-up for the match in Basel. He has confirmed though that Marco Pascol will start in goal, despite his error during Switzerland’s 2-1 friendly win over Austria this month.

Although Switzerland are currently languishing in fourth place in their World Cup qualifying group, a win over Yugoslavia on Saturday could lift the side up to second with two away matches (Luxembourg and Russia) still to play.

Only the group winners are guaranteed a place at next year’s finals, but the team who finish second will get the chance to qualify via the runners-up play-offs.

Saturday’s game already looks likely to be a sell-out with more than 26,000 of the 28,190 seated places already reserved.

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