KIEV(Reuters) – Influential midfielder Ruslan Rotan will miss both legs of Ukraine’s Euro 2016 playoff against Slovenia with a hamstring problem.
Ukraine’s vice-captain sustained the injury in Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk’s 3-0 defeat at Europa League Group G rivals St Etienne on Thursday.
Coach Mykhailo Fomenko has to fill two gaps in midfield for Saturday’s first leg in Lviv because Shakhtar Donetsk’s Taras Stepanenko is sidelined through suspension.
Full back Oleksandr Kucher is also banned for Saturday’s game but goalkeeper Andriy Pyatov is hoping he can shrug off an ankle injury in time to play.
“There’s not much to be cheerful about,” coach Mykhaylo Fomenko told reporters on Monday.
Ukraine have yet to beat Slovenia in four previous meetings, drawing twice and losing twice.
They also lost out to Slovenia in the Euro 2000 playoffs.
The second leg takes place on Nov. 17. The winners go through to next year’s finals in France.
(Writing by Igor Nitsak; Editing by Tony Jimenez)