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Greece picks young players for Euro 2012 squad

Associated Press Published: May 17, 2012

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Greece coach Fernando Santos on Thursday dropped seasoned Panathinaikos defenders Nikos Spyropoulos and Loukas Vyntra from the preliminary squad for the European Championship that is dominated by young players.

The Portuguese coach named his 25-man roster before traveling to a training camp in Austria. Santos named veteran strikers and several young players on the squad, including Buldesliga players Costas Fortounis, 19, and Kyriakos Papadopoulos, 20, as well as Greece-based Yiannis Fetfatzidis, 21, and winger Sotiris Ninis, 22.

"I'm counting on (Ninis) up front. He's an attack-minded player and has skills that others lack," Santos told a news conference. "We can play him on the left and right, he's good one-on-one with opponents, and he's versatile."

Greece will play Armenia and Slovenia in friendly matches this month before taking on Euro 2012 opponents Poland, Russia and the Czech Republic in Group A.

Greece topped its qualifying group unbeaten, winning seven of its 10 matches and pushing Croatia to the playoffs.

Thirty-six-year-old striker Nikos Lymberopoulos of AEK Athens is on the squad after scoring seven league goals. Lymberopoulos is joined by 31-year-old Fanis Gekas, who has played for Turkish club Samsunspor this season.

Celtic striker Georgios Samaras also kept his place on the national squad despite scoring just one goal in eight qualifying appearances.

"I tried to strike a balance," Santos said. "I had trouble with selecting the goalkeepers and a few other positions. In some cases, it was down to how well they know the national team. "

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