PRAGUE (AP) — Sparta Prague teenager Adam Hložek was named to the Czech Republic’s squad for the European Championship.
The 18-year-old forward is the youngest player on the team announced by coach Jaroslav Šilhavý on Tuesday.
Hložek missed several games in the Czech league this season due to an injury but still scored 11 goals and set up another seven in his 18 appearances. He also became the youngest player to score a hat trick in the competition.
“He’s been on the right track,” Šilhavý said about Hložek, who can be used as a striker or on the wing. “He certainly has a chance to make the starting lineup.”
The squad is spearheaded by a pair of West Ham players, midfielder Tomáš Souček and defender Vladimír Coufal, who helped their club finish sixth in the Premier League and qualify for the Europa League.
But former captain, Sparta Prague playmaker Bořek Dočkal, was dropped.
“That was the toughest decision,” Šilhavý said.
Dočkal is still in a group of 17 reserve players who could step up in case of injuries or a positive coronavirus test ahead of the tournament, which opens on June 11.
Šilhavý announced a list of 25 players, one less than the number allowed by UEFA.
The final place is meant for defender Ondřej Kúdela, who is appealing his 10-match ban from UEFA for racially abusing a Black opponent in a Europa League match. It prevents the 34-year-old Kúdela from playing at Euro 2020.
An appeal hearing is scheduled for Wednesday. If he doesn’t succeed, he still can challenge the ban at the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
“There’s still hope,” Silhavy said. “In the case of (Kúdela), it’s worth exploiting all possible options.”
The Czechs begin their Euro 2020 campaign on June 14 against Scotland in Glasgow. It’s the same city that Kúdela was found to have racially abused Rangers midfielder Glen Kamara on March 18.
They face Croatia four days later, also at Hampden Park, before finishing Group D play against England at Wembley Stadium on June 22.
Goalkeepers: Tomáš Vaclík (Sevilla), Jiří Pavlenka (Werder Bremen), Aleš Mandous (Olomouc)
Defenders: Jan Bořil (Slavia Prague), Jakub Brabec (Viktoria Plzeň), Vladimír Coufal (West Ham), Ondřej Čelůstka (Sparta Prague), Pavel Kadeřábek (Hoffenheim), Tomáš Kalas (Bristol City), Aleš Matějů (Brescia), David Zima (Slavia Prague)
Midfielders: Antonín Barák (Hellas Verona), Vladimír Darida (Hertha Berlin), Adam Hložek (Sparta Prague), Tomáš Holeš (Slavia Prague), Jakub Jankto (Sampdoria), Alex Král (Spartak Moscow), Lukáš Masopust (Slavia Prague), Jakub Pešek (Slovan Liberec), Tomáš Souček (West Ham), Petr Ševčík (Slavia Prague)