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Spanish plans not dictated by Shevchenko doubts

Written by: Staff
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KAMEN, Germany, June 12 (Reuters) Spain say that their plans for their opening match in the World Cup are not dependent on the possible absence of leading striker Andriy Shevchenko from the Ukraine starting lineup.

''We have to worry about ourselves not about whether Shevchenko plays or not,'' keeper Iker Casillas told a news conference today.

''He is obviously a very important player for them but Ukraine know how to play without him too and our priority has to be to look after ourselves.'' The presence of the former European footballer of the year for Wednesday's Group H opener in Leipzig will be in doubt up to the last minute because he is still in the final stages of recovering from a knee injury.

Casillas's comments were echoed by Spain midfielder Xabi Alonso.

''Shevchenko won't be the key to this match,'' the Liverpool player told Reuters.

''The important thing is that Ukraine are a very difficult team to beat. They qualified easily for the World Cup as top of a difficult group and that's proof that they are a very solid team.

They've won games both with and without Shevchenko.'' WINNING START Casillas said that a winning start would be an important boost for a Spain side that is hoping to break their run of disappointments at the World Cup by getting beyond the quarter-finals in Germany.

''Of the three teams we face in the group Ukraine are the strongest, so a win against them would be a big step forward,'' he said, ''If we start with a win it will boost our confidence, create a good atmosphere in the squad and that would be great.

''If we lose we'll obviously be sad and depressed but on the other hand we've sometimes started well and ended up doing nothing in the end.'' Spain's other opponents in Group H are Tunisia and Saudi Arabia.

Reuters SY GC2328

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