Sweden coach Lars Lagerback will be forced to ring the changes in attack for their 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ qualifier against Malta tomorrow. Johan Elmander became the latest player to pull out of the squad with a shoulder injury today, while Markus Rosenberg and Henrik Larsson had previously withdrawn.
That leaves Zlatan Ibrahimovic needing a new partner up front, although the Inter Milan player is confident whoever fills the vacancy will do a good job. "Everyone in the squad has the ability, so I don't think having another strike partner will have too much of an influence," he said. "Whoever comes in will certainly be hungry, everyone is keen to play."
Groningen forward Marcus Berg could be handed a starting place, while Lagerback has called up Tobias Hysen as cover. Right-back Mikael Nilsson has also been ruled out with a groin injury for a match which Sweden need to win to keep alive their South Africa 2010 hopes.
A 1-0 defeat by neighbours Denmark last Saturday has left the Swedes ten points behind their Scandinavian rivals, who lead the Group 1 standings in the European Zone.
However, they will be favourites to beat a Malta side who have yet to win in the pool and have lost six of their seven qualifiers so far. The Maltese have not scored in qualifying either, but have conceded 17 goals.
Forward Daniel Bogdanovic has been troubled by a thigh injury in training, but is expected to be fit for tomorrow's game.