Thursday 14 December 2017

Zlatan skips Sweden duties

Zlatan Ibrahimovich. Photo: Jonathan Nackstrand/AFP/Getty Images
Zlatan Ibrahimovich. Photo: Jonathan Nackstrand/AFP/Getty Images

Sweden have given permission for their talisman Zlatan Ibrahimovic to miss their friendly against Turkey this week so the 34-year-old can get some rest ahead of Euro 2016.

The Swedish captain is facing a busy finish to the club season with Paris St Germain's run in the Champions League and, just as Wales did with Gareth Bale for their friendly, Sweden have excused Ibrahimovic from their preparations for the finals, Sweden of course up against Ireland in the opening game of the group.

"For a while I have been thinking about what I can do to preserve his form until the summer. I can't affect how much he plays at Paris, but I have offered him the opportunity to skip the match in Turkey," Sweden coach Erik Hamren said ahead of Friday's game.

"Zlatan accepted the offer today, he will not play against Turkey. I think that is good for him, and in the end also good for the team. It is a way of trying to maintain his superb form until the Euros this summer."

Belgium, who also face Ireland in Euro 2016, cancelled training ahead of their planned friendly against Portugal in Brussels on Tuesday but that game is now in doubt. The Belgians called off a friendly in November after the first wave of attacks on the city.

Meanwhile, David McGoldrick has taken his first step towards fitness while keeping alive his slim hopes of making it into the Ireland squad for the finals.

Sidelined since December due to a hamstring injury, McGoldrick played 90 minutes for Ipswich's reserve side against Nottingham Forest yesterday and will try to force his way into Mick McCarthy's side after the international break.

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