As the Estonian men's national football team is preparing for three home matches in the span of seven days, they have to do so without many mainstay players, due to injury.
The national football team is set to face Lithuania for a friendly match on Wednesday, October 7, at 7 p.m. Two UEFA Nations League matches will follow, as Estonia hosts North Macedonia on Sunday, October 11, at 7 p.m. and Armenia on Wednesday, October 14, at 9.45 p.m.
All matches will be broadcast on ETV2 and ERR's sports portal.
Due to injuries, goalkeeper Marko Meerits, defender Ken Kallaste and forward Henri Anier will not participate in any of the three coming matches, however.
Defender Karol Mets, who is reportedly set to make a transfer from Swedish club Stockholm AIK to Saudi Arabian side Al-Ettifaq, will not risk injury either, and will miss the matches. Defender Joonas Tamm will also miss the coming matches for personal reasons.
This sets the stage for many younger players, as six of those picked are under 21.
Manager Karel Voolaid said: "It is clear that we are in a situation where we can not use either of them (Mets and Tamm - ed.) this time. On the other hand, we must act rationally: This can happen in sports at one time or another. We must be prepared for it."
The boss added that the coronavirus interrupted Monday's practice session: "Some players had to stay in the hotel because we were forced to conduct testing, and test results do not come in fast enough. We were missing four players today (Monday - ed.) - Karl Jakob Hein, Mattias Käit, Mihkel Ainsalu and Georgi Tunjov were not able to take part in training. As of now, we are finally in the know that [test] results are negative and they will be with us for Tuesday."
Voolaid said the coming matches are a good opportunity for young players to show what they are made of: "We have a lot of debutants in the squad. The match against Lithuania is one of the best opportunities for them to show what they are worth - it is clear the first game will have some aspects of a trial to it. This will not be the case for the next two matches, however (against North Macedonia and Armenia - ed.)."
He concluded: "Final decisions will be made on Tuesday evening. We have a plan to use players in a way that optimal energy supply is distributed across all three matches. It is clear that matches bring with them concurrent changes. If everything goes to plan, we will have enough energy for the third game as well."
On Tuesday, October 6, the Lithuanian football association announced one of their players had received a positive coronavirus test result and will not make the trip to Estonia. All other players will be tested on Tuesday as per rules, before departing to Estonia.
Editor: Kristjan Kallaste