Serbian Lazovic quits international football

BELGRADE - Serbia striker Danko Lazovic has quit international football to extend his club career at Russian champions Zenit St Petersburg, the Serbian Football Association (FSS) said on Friday.

"Lazovic has sent a letter to the FSS saying that he will no longer make himself available for national team selection in order to focus on club achievements," the body's spokesman Aleksandar Boskovic told a news conference.

Boskovic said defender Aleksandar Lukovic, who also plays for Zenit and has won 27 caps, had made himself unavailable for national selection for the rest of this year.

Lazovic, who was part of Serbia's World Cup 2010 squad, has scored 11 goals in 43 internationals but never established himself in the country's starting eleven.

Serbia coach Vladimir Petrovic, who named his 27-man squad for their Euro 2012 qualifiers at home to Northern Ireland on March 25 away to Estonia four days later, said he hoped Lazovic would have a change of heart.

"I think he has made a hasty decision because he is too young to quit the national team at the age of 27 but even if he doesn't, we will move on without him," Petrovic told Reuters.

"Of course it's a blow for us because we are short of top quality strikers at the moment, but it's his decision and all we can do is wish him the best of luck," he added.

With first-choice striker Dragan Mrdja out for the rest of the season and Nikola Zigic doubtful with a groin injury, Petrovic had to recall Liverpool's Milan Jovanovic and include several uncapped players.

Manchester United captain Nemanja Vidic is unlikely to play any part in the two qualifiers but was also included in case he recovered from an ankle injury sooner than expected.

"It's only an outside chance but with so many players out for various reasons and a rising number of the walking wounded, we need as many resources as we can," Petrovic said.

The Serbs are fifth in Group C with four points from as many games, six behind leaders Italy.

Squad:

Goalkeepers: Bojan Jorgancevic (Ghent), Zeljko Brkic (Vojvodina Novi Sad), Bojan Saranov (OFK Belgrade).

Defenders: Branislav Ivanovic (Chelsea), Pavle Ninkov (Red Star Belgrade), Nenad Tomovic (Lecce), Milan Bisevac (Valenciennes), Nemanja Vidic (Manchester United), Neven Subotic (Borussia Dortmund), Slobodan Rajkovic (Vitesse Arnhem), Aleksandar Kolarov (Manchester City), Ivan Obradovic (Zaragoza).

Midfield: Dejan Stankovic (Inter Milan), Nenad Milijas (Wolverhampton Wanderers), Zdarvko Kuzmanovic (Vfb Stuttgart), Radosav Petrovic (Partizan Belgrade), Veseljko Trivunovic (OFK Belgrade), Milos Ninkovic (Dynamo Kiev), Milos Krasic (Juventus), Marko Miric (Spartak Subotica), Zoran Tosic (CSKA Moscow), Adem Ljajic (Fiorentina), Miralem Sulejmani (Ajax Amsterdam).

Forwards: Marko Pantelic (Olympiakos Piraeus), Nikola Zigic (Birmingham), Milan Jovanovic (Liverpool), Brana Ilic (Vojvodina Novi Sad).