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Austria coach Koller makes 5 changes for World Cup qualifier

August 25, 2016

VIENNA (AP) — Austria coach Marcel Koller has made five changes to his Euro 2016 squad for the team’s World Cup qualifier in Georgia next month.

Salzburg midfielder Valentino Lazaro, who was dropped ahead of the European Championship, returned while four new names were included in the 23-man squad, which Koller announced Thursday.

Goalkeeper Andreas Lukse, defender Stefan Stangl, midfielder Louis Schaub and forward Michael Gregoritsch could earn their maiden cap in the team’s first qualifying game for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

“This is not a new start, we continue on the same path,” Koller said. “Several players are reaching their thirties so you have to start adding young players if you don’t want to replace 10 players at once someday.”

Striker Rubin Okotie, who has joined second-tier Beijing Enterprises Group in China, is the most notable absentee alongside captain Christian Fuchs. The Leicester defender retired from the team after Austria’s poor showing and elimination in the group stage at the European Championship.

Koller said he will announce a new captain next week after the team has gathered for a training camp in Vienna.

Austria plays Georgia in Tbilisi on Sept. 5 in Group D, which also includes Wales, Serbia, Ireland and Moldova.

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Austria squad:

Goalkeepers: Robert Almer (Austria Vienna), Andreas Lukse (Altach), Ramazan Oezcan (Leverkusen)

Defenders: Aleksandar Dragovic (Leverkusen), Martin Hinteregger (Salzburg), Florian Klein (Stuttgart), Sebastian Proedl (Watford), Stefan Stangl (Salzburg), Markus Suttner (Ingolstadt), Kevin Wimmer (Tottenham)

Midfielders: David Alaba (Bayern Munich), Marko Arnautovic (Stoke), Julian Baumgartlinger (Leverkusen), Martin Harnik (Hannover), Stefan Ilsanker (Leipzig), Zlatko Junuzovic (Werder Bremen), Valentino Lazaro (Salzburg), Marcel Sabitzer (Leipzig), Louis Schaub (Rapid Vienna), Alessandro Schoepf (Schalke)

Forwards: Michael Gregoritsch (Hamburg), Lukas Hinterseer (Ingolstadt), Marc Janko (FC Basel)

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