ATHENS, Greece — Still looking for his first win as Greece coach, Claudio Ranieri has dropped Kostas Mitroglou for a European Championship home qualifier against the Faeroe Islands next Friday and a friendly against Serbia four days later.
The surprise announcement came days after Georgios Samaras was also omitted, while Turkey-based veteran Fanis Gekas was recalled for duty at Karaiskaki Stadium.
Under Ranieri, Greece has performed poorly in Euro 2016 qualifiers, losing at home to Romania and Northern Ireland and being held to a draw by Finland in Helsinki in Group F.
The results have come as a shock after the national team reached the second round at the World Cup in Brazil.
Ranieri blamed the weak performances on the difficult transition to younger players, and the Greek Football Association insisted this week it was not considering replacing the 62-year-old Italian coach.
"Everything that has been written, talked about, or rumored has no bearing on the truth. ... There is no issue regarding Mr. Ranieri, who is working hard toward achieving qualification," an association statement said this week.
Talented winger Jose Holebas is among several key players at Ranieri's disposal following a bout of injury absences in previous matches.
Bundesliga-based Kyriakos Papadopoulos had his return to the squad again delayed by a fresh injury and surgery that will keep him out at Bayer Leverkusen until the end of the year.
Ranieri handed a place to defender Michalis Bakakis, who plays for second-division AEK Athens.
"This is my first call-up and I'm very happy," Bakakis said. "I want to work to stay on the team. ... It's what every football player dreams about."
Goalkeepers: Orestis Karnezis (Udinese), Panagiotis Glykos (PAOK), Stephanos Kapino (Mainz).
Defenders: Vassilis Torosidis (Roma), Avraam Papadopoulos (Trabzonspor), Kostas Manolas (Roma), Sokratis Papastathopoulos (Borussia Dortmund), Vangelis Moras (Verona), Jose Holebas (Roma), Nikos Karabelas (Levante), Michalis Bakakis (AEK Athens).
Midfielders: Giannis Maniatis (Olympiakos), Alexandros Tziolis (PAOK), Andreas Samaris (Benfica), Petros Mantalos (AEK Athens), Panagiotis Kone (Udinese), Kostas Fortounis (Sunderland), Charis Mavrias (Sunderland), Lazaros Christodoulopoulos (Verona).
Forwards: Dimitris Salpingidis (PAOK), Fanis Gekas (Akhisar Belediyespor), Stefanos 'Klaus' Athanasiadis (PAOK), Nikos Karelis (Panathinaikos).
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