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19.08.2007 12:13

Rijkaard left with nine players

Roger Bogunyà

Frank Rijkaard will begin the final week of preparation before the league season starts with a heavily reduced first-team squad to work with due to international commitments.

The Dutch coach has pencilled in training for 18:30 on Monday, but he will have to plan the session with a few less players than he worked with on Saturday. There are 13 players away with their national squads for the matches in midweek and the majority will jet off on Monday. Bojan Krkic is already away with Spain squad at the Under-17 World Championships.

Two official games

Of the 13 players, only two will be appearing in official games. Krkic will play in Spain's second game in the tournament in Korea, having impressed in his first appearance by scoring twice. Deco is the other as Portugal take on Armenia in a Euro 2008 qualifier, but he may not be fit to play having travelled despite suffering from a thigh injury.

European trips

2381735126.jpgOf the other 11 stars, ten of them will play in Europe. Xavi and Andrés Iniesta travel with Spain to take on Greece in Tessalonica, while Ronaldinho will play for Brazil in Montpellier, France against Algeria.

The three French Barça players, Thierry Henry, Éric Abidal and Lilian Thuram are set to play in a friendly against Slovakia in Bratislava, while Gianluca Zamrbotta has been called up by Italy for their friendly against Hungary in Budapest. Argentina will include Leo Messi and Gaby Milito in their ranks for a friendly in Oslo against Norway. Touré Yaya has a slightly shorter trip as he teams up with the Ivory Coast to play Egypt in Paris.

Eto’o back to Asia

Samuel Eto'o will have to return to the Far East as he has been called up by Cameroon for the friendly encounter against Japan in Tokyo.

Nine available

WEB_06.jpgAll these absentees means that Rijkaard will have very few first-team players until Thursday. Carles Puyol, Edmílson and Eidur Gudjohnsen are all out injured, meaning the there will be nine players available to the coach, including Víctor Valdés, Albert Jorquera, Juliano Belletti, Oleguer, Sylvinho, Thiago Motta, Santi Ezquerro, Rafa Márquez and Gio Dos Santos.

Barça player their first league game of the new season against Racing Santander at 19:00 on Sunday, August 26 in El Sardinero, so the international players will have only a few days to prepare once they return.
Rijkaard left with nine players
Back on Thursday
A dozen of the 13 players will return from international duty on Thursday, August 23, just a day after they have played for their countries. Bojan Krkic is the only player that will stil be away as he continues to help Spain at the Under-17 World Championships in Korea.

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