Soccer: Zandberg back in Israel squad for England game

Also making a return is Maccabi Netanya goalkeeper Liran Strauber; Benayoun, who made his league debut for Liverpool on Saturday, will captain the side.

zandberg 88 (photo credit: )
zandberg 88
(photo credit: )
Michael Zandberg has surprisingly been included by national team coach Dror Kashtan in the Israel squad for next week's crucial Euro 2008 qualifier against England to be played at London's Wembley Stadium. It was widely expected that Zandberg would not make the trip to England, after the Betar Jerusalem midfielder was not part of the squad for the friendly game against Belarus last month . But Zandberg was named in the list of 23 players announced on Saturday evening and may even make the starting line up on September 8. Israel is joint top of Group E with Croatia on 17 points while England is fourth with 14 points. Russia is third with 15. Croatia, Russia and England have played seven games, and Israel eight. Israel held England to a 0-0 draw in Tel Aviv in March, and a positive result at Wembley would be a major boost for the squad's quest to qualify for its first major championships since the 1970 World Cup finals. Also making a return to the Israel squad is Maccabi Netanya goalkeeper Liran Strauber, but he is unlikely to make an appearance for the blue and white with regular starter Dudu Awat and Maccabi Haifa's Nir Davidovitch ahead of him. Liverpool's Yossi Benayoun, who made his league debut on Saturday when he came on as a substitute in the second half of the reds' 6-0 win over Derby country, will captain the Israel side. Fellow English Premier League player Tal Ben-Haim will anchor the Israel defense, but Chelsea's Ben Sahar, who is currently on loan at Championship side Queens Park Rangers, was not included in the squad despite recovering from a recent appendicitis operation. The 18-year-old striker scored two goals on his senior debut for the national team against Estonia back in March and played 69 minutes on his QPR debut on Saturday, but was dropped by Kashtan. The London side was soundly beaten 3-0 by Southampton at Loftus Road. As has been the case in recent games, Betar Jerusalem is by far the most prominent club represented, with eight players in the Israel squad. The squad will come together for a training session at the National Stadium in Ramat Gan on Monday before flying out to England on Tuesday morning. In England, Israel will be staying in St Albans and train at Watford FC's training ground at London Colney on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday before training on the pitch at Wembley on Friday, the day before the big game. Meanwhile, England coach Steve McClaren on Friday named his squad for the games against Israel and Russia four days later, with David Beckham the most notable absentee. Beckham's latest knee injury ruled him out of the qualifiers, while Ashley Young and David Bentley were called up for the first time. Injured Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard, who has missed his club's last three games, was also included in the 26-man squad. Chelsea's Frank Lampard is a doubt after hurting his thigh in training on Friday. With only two teams advancing, England, which is also missing injured striker Wayne Rooney, is in danger of missing the tournament in Austria and Switzerland. "We are very positive that it is in our hands," McClaren said. "The players know what they have got to do. They are used to that at club level and international level. We normally win the big games and we have to do it again." McClaren dropped Beckham when he became England coach after the World Cup, but brought back the midfielder for the friendly match against Brazil in June. Beckham's accurate crosses have helped set up several goals in the three matches of his international comeback. "It is a big blow for us," McClaren said. "He is a big player and we are coming up to big games and we need big players for big games. He is injured and how well he recovers and how fast he recovers and how he plays from there on we will see." AP contributed to this report. Israel squad: Goalkeepers: Dudu Awat (Deportivo La Caruna), Nir Davidovitch (Maccabi Haifa), Liran Strauber (Maccabi Netanya). Defenders: Tal Ben-Haim (Chelsea), Arik Benado, Shimon Gershon, Yoav Ziv (all Betar Jerusalem), Yuval Sprungin (Maccabi Tel Aviv), Klemi Saban, Avi Strul (both Maccabi Netanya), Yigal Antebi (Hapoel Tel Aviv). Midfielders: Yossi Benayoun (Liverpool), Walid Badier (Hapoel Tel Aviv), Gal Alberman, Idan Tal, Michael Zandberg (all Betar Jerusalem). Strikers: Toto Yamuz, Barak Itzhaki (Betar Jerusalem), Omer Golan (Maccabi Petah Tikva), Pini Balili (Sivasspor), Roberto Collauti (Borussia Monchengladbah), Elyaniv Barda (Genk), Yaniv Katan (Maccabi Haifa). England Squad: Goalkeepers: Paul Robinson (Tottenham), David James (Portsmouth), Scott Carson (Aston Villa) Defenders: Micah Richards (Manchester City), Wes Brown (Manchester United), Rio Ferdinand (Manchester United), John Terry (Chelsea), Ashley Cole (Chelsea), Sol Campbell (Portsmouth), Phil Neville (Everton), Nicky Shorey (Reading) Midfielder: David Bentley (Blackburn), Steven Gerrard (Liverpool), Frank Lampard (Chelsea), Joe Cole (Chelsea), Shaun Wright-Phillips (Chelsea), Michael Carrick (Manchester United), Gareth Barry (Aston Villa), Stewart Downing (Middlesbrough), Owen Hargreaves (Manchester United), Ashley Young (Aston Villa) Strikers: Alan Smith (Newcastle), Michael Owen (Newcastle), Peter Crouch (Liverpool), Andrew Johnson (Everton), Jermain Defoe (Tottenham)