(Reuters) – Striker Teemu Pukki and captain Tim Sparv were included in Finland’s 26-man squad for Euro 2020 despite niggling injuries, as the Finns prepare to take part in the finals of a major soccer tournament for the first time.
Midfielder Sparv, who had been out since the end of March with a knee injury, played 45 minutes of Saturday’s 2-0 friendly loss to Sweden in Stockholm and said on social media that he felt no ill effects following his comeback.
Finland coach Markku Kanerva is also hoping that Pukki, who scored 10 goals in qualifying for the Euros, will have recovered from an ankle injury in time to face Denmark in their Group B opener at the Parken Stadium on June 12.
“We have had some small injuries and we’ve been forced to take them into account when selecting the squad,” Kanerva told reporters, adding that it was the toughest selection that he had ever had to make.
Kanerva was flanked by goalkeeper Lukas Hradecky, who warned against under-estimating the Finns.
“There’s something special about this team. We have a tight squad and that will be seen on the pitch and at home in front of the TVs,” he said.
“I don’t think many people know how good we are as a team. At the Euros we will show that we are better than many believe,” he added.
Following their opener against Denmark, the Finns will play Russia on June 16 and Belgium on June 21, with both games taking place in St. Petersburg, Russia.
(Reporting by Philip O’Connor; Editing by Toby Davis)