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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Italian Test for Depleted Russians

ROME -- Six months after Marcello Lippi took charge, the Italian team still looks like a work in progress as it prepares to play Russia in a friendly on Wednesday.

Russia coach Georgy Yartsev, meanwhile, has little room for maneuver after a spate of withdrawals left him with only 15 outfield players.

Spartak Moscow striker Roman Pavlyuchenko pulled out after suffering a thigh strain over the weekend.

Injuries had already ruled out the Zenit St. Petersburg duo of striker Andrei Arshavin and midfielder Vladimir Bystrov, while CSKA Moscow keeper Igor Akinfeyev and teammate Alexei Berezutsky counted themselves out because of club commitments.

In the Italian camp, Cagliari's Antonio Langella became the 46th player to be called up by Lippi since he replaced Giovanni Trapattoni after Euro 2004.

Langella was added to the squad following the withdrawal of Roma striker Antonio Cassano.

The 22-year-old Cassano, who has a reputation for being difficult to manage, pulled out with a knee injury on Sunday despite playing in all of AS Roma's 1-1 draw with Bologna just hours before.

Former Juventus coach Lippi has been true to his promise that no one would enjoy the right to automatic selection, and that current form rather than past performance was more likely to earn a call-up to the national side.

His policy has claimed several notable casualties.

Strikers Alessandro Del Piero, Marco Di Vaio and Bernardo Corradi, and midfielders Stefano Fiore and Simone Perrotta were stalwarts during the Trapattoni era, but are absent from the 22-man squad that is to face Russia.

Lippi has also shown himself more willing than his predecessor to try out young players.

Parma striker Alberto Gilardino, Roma midfielder Daniele De Rossi and defender Giorgio Chiellini of Fiorentina have all graduated from Italy's Under-21 team to become regular senior squad members.

That does not mean the door is closed to Serie A's older players. Christian Vieri, 31, has been rewarded for his recent form with a return to the national side.

The Inter Milan striker last appeared for Italy in Trapattoni's final game in charge, a 2-1 win over Bulgaria at Euro 2004.

Italy is sitting comfortably on top of World Cup qualifying Group 5. Its next qualifier is against Scotland at the San Siro stadium on March 26.

Russia is third in Group 3, six points behind leader Portugal with a game in hand.

Russia lost 1-0 to Italy on its only previous visit -- a qualifier for the 1998 World Cup.