In the latest Russia news, captain Igor Akinfeev has insisted they are not thinking about Mohamed Salah’s return for Tuesday’s game against Egypt.
The Liverpool star enjoyed a fantastic maiden campaign at Anfield, netting 44 goals across the board but missed his country’s 1-0 opening World Cup defeat to Uruguay with the shoulder injury he picked up in the Champions League final.
Having been an unused substitute against La Celeste, Hector Cuper is likely to start him on Tuesday in St Petersburg.
Russia began their campaign with a 5-0 win over Saudi Arabia but will expect a much tougher test against the Pharaohs.
Salah’s return could be crucial but goalkeeper and captain Akinfeev insists he is only focusing on his own side.
“I will tell you about my team, as I believe we should pay more attention to the Russian team,” Akinfeev said on Monday. “It’s wrong to single someone out because they have 22 other players (in the Egypt squad).”
Akinfeev’s thoughts were echoed by his manager Stanislav Cherchesov, who after being heavily criticised in the build-up to the World Cup, now appears to have the entire nation behind him.
A win for Russia, who are 11/10 to triumph with William Hill, would all but guarantee their place in the last 16.
Thursday’s victory has understandably raised hopes but a Salah-inspired Egypt would carry far more threat than the listless Saudis.
The 54-year-old admits his side will need to look after the former Roma man, however, he feels his team have more than enough to get a result at the Krestovsky Stadium.
“Of course he stands out, but obviously we’re not up against a single player,” Cherchesov said. “I believe in my players and I will give you a simple answer to your question: We are ready to do this and we will do this.”