Athens: Greece coach Fernando Santos on Thursday dropped seasoned Panathinaikos defenders Nikos Spyropoulos and Loukas Vyntra from the preliminary squad for the European Championship that is dominated by young players.
The Portuguese coach named his 25-man roster before traveling to a training camp in Austria. Santos named veteran strikers and several young players on the squad, including Bundesliga players Costas Fortounis, 19, and Kyriakos Papadopoulos, 20, as well as Greece-based Yiannis Fetfatzidis, 21, and winger Sotiris Ninis, 22.
"I'm counting on (Ninis) up front. He's an attack-minded player and has skills that others lack," Santos told a news conference. "We can play him on the left and right, he's good one-on-one with opponents, and he's versatile."
Greece will play Armenia and Slovenia in friendly matches this month before taking on Euro 2012 opponents Poland, Russia and the Czech Republic in Group A.
Greece topped its qualifying group unbeaten, winning seven of its 10 matches and pushing Croatia to the playoffs.
Thirty-six-year-old striker Nikos Lymberopoulos of AEK Athens is on the squad after scoring seven league goals. Lymberopoulos is joined by 31-year-old Fanis Gekas, who has played for Turkish club Samsunspor this season.
Celtic striker Georgios Samaras also kept his place on the national squad despite scoring just one goal in eight qualifying appearances.
"I tried to strike a balance," Santos said. "I had trouble with selecting the goalkeepers and a few other positions. In some cases, it was down to how well they know the national team."
Two of the players will be eliminated from the squad before the tournament that runs from June 8 to July 30 and is co-hosted by Poland and Ukraine. Santos said he'll make the decision on who to leave behind after the Austria camp.
"Obviously that will be difficult. But I am paid to make difficult decisions," Santos said.
Greece, the shock Euro 2004 champions, is currently ranked 14th in the world.
Goalkeepers: Costas Chalkias (PAOK), Michalis Sifakis (Aris), Alexandros Tzorvas (Palermo).
Defenders: Vassilis Torosidis (Olympiakos), Sokratis Papastathopoulos (Werder Bremen), Avraam Papadopoulos (Olympiakos).
Iosif Cholevas (Olympiakos), Stelios Malezas (PAOK), Giorgos Tzavelas (Monaco), Yiannis Maniatis (Olympiakos), Kyriakos Papadopoulos (Schalke).
Midfielders: Giorgos Karagounis (Panathinaikos), Costas Katsouranis (Panathinaikos), Giorgos Fotakis (PAOK), Alexandros Tziolis (Monaco), Costas Fortounis (Kaiserslautern), Panagiotis Kone (Bologna), Yiannis Fetfatzidis (Olympiakos), Sotiris Ninis (Panathinaikos), Grigoris Makos (AEK Athens).
Strikers: Georgios Samaras (Celtic), Dimitris Salpigidis (PAOK), Kostas Mitroglou (Atromitos), Nikos Lymberopoulos (AEK Athens), Fanis Gekas (Samsunspor).