Euro 2012: Czech striker Baros doubt for opener


WROCLAW, Poland (AP) -Czech Republic striker Milan Baros remains doubtful for the team's European Championship opener against Russia because of a muscle strain.

His absence would be a major blow for the Czechs, because coach Michal Bilek prefers a lineup with a lone striker and Baros is the No. 1 choice. Without him, he has only limited options up front.

The injury occurred after Baros kicked the ball during training Tuesday, forcing him to leave the session early. There's still hope he can play in the Group A match on Friday, after team doctor Petr Krejci said a scan at a military hospital in Wroclaw on Wednesday "didn't confirm any damage of the muscle.

"I can't say if he will be ready to fully train tomorrow, but if he's to play he has to train fully," Krejci said.

Baros will be treated at the team base in Wroclaw and a decision on his fitness will be made at a training session before the match. Team officials haven't provided more details on the injury.

Another Czech team doctor, Petr Novak, who accompanied Baros for the scan and said his condition has improved and the pain has receded. As a precaution, Baros was being advised not to jog or do stretching exercises.

The Czechs have arrived with four forwards at the tournament co-hosted by Poland and Ukraine, but only Tomas Pekhart of Nuremberg seems to be an option for Bilek to attack alone. That would mean a change of his attacking play, because unlike speedy Baros, Pekhart is a towering striker who has yet to score a goal in an international match.

"We all hope that Milan will be able to play," Pekhart said. "But of course, I'm 100 percent ready, as everyone else."

The 30-year-old Baros, who plays for Galatasaray, has scored 41 international goals, but netted only once in qualifying.

Euro 2012 was meant to help the striker revive his career. He is the second-most prolific Czech striker of all time behind Jan Koller, who scored 55 goals. Baros was also the best striker at Euro 2004 and he won the Champions League with Liverpool.

"Milan's had a brilliant career, scored so many goals," Pekhart said. "He remains No. 1 for us."

Goalkeeper Petr Cech downplayed the worries about Baros' condition.

"He doesn't have to train," Cech said. "If he plays and scores, that's fine."

Another striker, Tomas Necid of CSKA Moscow, has recently recovered from a long-term knee injury and his form was unclear. Also David Lafata may have scored 25 goals last season for his Jablonec in the Czech league, but netted just three for the national team so far.

The rest of the team trained Wednesday in Wroclaw, including captain Tomas Rosicky, who has recovered from a calf injury.

The Czechs also play 2004 champion Greece and co-host Poland in group A.

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