Czech Republic will miss injured Arsenal midfielder and team captain Tomas Rosicky in their 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™ qualifiers in Malta and Bulgaria, Czech interim coach Josef Pesice said today.

"Arsenal have asked us to excuse Rosicky for health reasons. We have called up Borek Dockal," from Sparta Prague, to replace him, Pesice said. The injury-prone Rosicky, 33, limped off the pitch with a calf problem during a qualifier against Italy on 10 September in Turin, where a 2-1 loss all but ended Czech hopes of qualifying for Brazil.

He recovered to play against Napoli in the UEFA Champions League last week and against West Bromwich Albion in the English Premier League yesterday. "But Tomas wasn't completely fit after the game. (Arsenal manager) Arsene Wenger got in touch with me and we agreed not to take Tomas to the qualifiers," said Czech national team director Vladimir Smicer.

Facing Malta on 11 October and Bulgaria four days later, the Czech Republic are fourth in European qualifying Group B with nine points, trailing second-placed Bulgaria by four points with only two games to play. Even if the Czechs clinched the second spot in the end, they would likely have the fewest points of all second-placed teams, barring their way to the November play-offs.

Pesice was named interim head coach after Michal Bilek quit the job following the loss to Italy.