Koutsianikoulis surprise for Greece

Greece coach Otto Rehhagel sprang a surprise by naming Ergotelis forward Vassilis Koutsianikoulis in his squad for Thursday's (AEDT) friendly against Italy.

The 20-year-old Koutsianikoulis, who has featured previously in the Greece Under-21 squad, shot to prominence in his club's 3-2 triumph over Panathinaikos at the Olympic Stadium in late October.

His reward is a place in Rehhagel's 20-man group for the match against the world champions at the Georgios Karaiskakis stadium in Pireaus.

He is joined by Panathinaikos striker Vangelis Mantzios, who returns to the international set-up after impressive displays in the Champions League.

Initially, Rehhagel had also invited Angelos Charisteas and Giourkas Seitaridis but both have since been ruled out through injury.

Rehhagel has also left out Celtic striker Georgios Samaras, who has only just recovered from injury, as well as defender Sotiris Kyrgiakos and forward Yiannis Amanatidis.

Greece squad: Costas Chalkias (PAOK), Alexandros Tzorvas (Panathinaikos); Traianos Dellas (Anorthosis Famagusta), Sokratis Papastathopoulos (Genoa), Nikos Spyropoulos, Loukas Vintra (both Panathinaikos), Avraam Papadopoulos, Vassilis Torosidis (both Olympiacos); Costas Katsouranis (Benfica), Giorgos Karagounis, Sotiris Ninis, Alexandros Tziolis (all Panathinaikos), Christos Patsatzoglou (Olympiacos), Angelos Basinas, Vassilis Pliatsikas (AEK Athens); Theofanis Gekas (Bayer Leverkusen), Nikos Liberopoulos (Eintracht Frankfurt), Vangelis Mantzios, Dimitris Salpingidis (both Panathinaikos), Vassilis Koutsianikoulis (Ergotelis).

Source: PRESS ASSOCIATION