Hard-up Turkey mull putting keeper outfield
Turkey are so decimated by injury and suspension ahead of Wednesday's Euro 2008 semi-final against Germany they may resort to playing reserve keeper Tolga Zengin as an outfield player, according to coach Fatih Terim. (AFP)
"He could come on towards the end as a sub as last man (in defence) or a centre forward," Terim said.
"We can't allow ourselves the luxury of players choosing where they want to play," said Terim, who has nine of his squad unavailable.
But he is not worried about facing the three-times champions.
"We have shown several times already that we can achieve the impossible. I have faith in my team and in our ability to reach the final," said the man nicknamed "The Emperor."
Turkey's delight at reaching their first European championship semi-final took a big blow on Saturday when it was revealed their talismanic striker and caretaker captain Nihat Kahveci was extremely doubtful for Wednesday's clash.
The 28-year-old - scorer of two goals in the 3-2 win over the Czech Republic in their final group game but who largely ploughed a thankless lonely furrow in the quarter-final against Croatia - has a groin injury which forced him off towards the end of extra-time on Friday.
Goalkeeper Volkan Demirel is already suspended, though the Turks have an appeal pending over his two match suspension, as are defender Emre Asik, and midfield duo Tuncay Sanli and the influential Arda Turan.
Defender Emre Gungor has already been ruled out of the rest of the tournament through injury while there are injury doubts over regular captain Emre Belozoglu, key defender Servet Cetin and Tumer Metin.
UEFA rules prevent Turkey, who finished third at the 2002 World Cup, from bringing in any fresh players.
German sports news agency SID quoted UEFA spokesman William Gaillard as saying Sunday that the tournament rules were clear at the start of the tournament and "we do not intend to change them during the tournament."
He confirmed that a replacement could only be called upon if a player was injured before his team's opening game.
But there was a notable exception 12 years ago, when the game's European governing body allowed the Germans themselves to bring in Jens Todt with the German squad bereft of six players through injury and suspension for the final against the Czech Republic.
UEFA accepted that the shortage of players meant that then coach Berti Vogts would likely have to list his reserve goalkeepers Oliver Kahn and Oliver Reck as outfielders.
The Germans won 2-1 as Oliver Bierhoff, now assistant to current coach Joachim Loew, netted a golden goal.