Arsenal playmaker Andrey Arshavin and Chelsea wingback Yuri Zhirkov look set to miss Russia's vital 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ qualifier against Liechtenstein tomorrow night.
Arshavin suffered a groin injury during last Saturday's 2-1 defeat at Manchester United while Zhirkov is still struggling with a knee problem. Guus Hiddink's side lie second in Group 4 on 15 points from six games, four points behind leaders Germany who are not in qualifying action until Wednesday.
The Russians can, therefore, move within a point of the pool summit by beating minnows Liechtenstein in St Petersburg tomorrow, but will likely have to do do without two of their Premier League stars. "While I do not think very positively over the participation of Arshavin and Zhirkov in the game, you are more likely to say they will not participate in the game tomorrow," said Hiddink.
But the Dutchman is confident his side will nevertheless have the quality to overcome their visitors, even without Arshavin, Zhirkov and Dinamo Moscow defender Denis Kolodin (thigh). "There are a sufficient number of players who will be able to adequately replace them," he added.
Liechtenstein have picked up just one point from their six games and prop up the rest in the pool, but only went down 1-0 to Russia in the reverse fixture in Vaduz five months ago. Azerbaijan, who sit above Liechtenstein only on goal difference in the standings, host third-placed Finland in tomorrow's other Group 4 game.
A penalty just after the hour from Mikael Forssell, who looks set to miss tomorrow's encounter through injury, was all that separated the sides in Helsinki last October as the Finns ground out a 1-0 win.