BUCHAREST (Reuters) - Romania captain Vlad Chiriches will miss the team's 2014 World Cup playoffs against Greece with a fractured nose, coach Victor Piturca said on Monday.
The 23-year-old center back suffered the injury during his team Tottenham Hotspur's 1-0 home loss to Newcastle United in the Premier League on Sunday and has been replaced by Dinamo Bucharest defender Dragos Grigore.
The absence of Chiriches, capped 22 times by Romania since making his debut in 2011, is a big blow for the team's bid to reach the World Cup finals for the first time since 1998.
"Chiriches is very important for us, not only because he's our captain," Piturca told a news conference. "But as I said many times, no team is dependent on only one player."
Piturca added 11 home-based players, including five from champions Steaua Bucharest, in his 24-man squad for the matches at the Georgios Karaiskakis stadium in Athens on November 15 and at home four days later.
Piturca has already left out Ajaccio's Mutu, Romania's all-time joint leading scorer with 35 goals in 77 internationals, and Manchester City keeper Costel Pantilimon despite his impressive performances in recent weeks.
In another surprise move, Piturca have excluded Kuban Krasnodar striker Gheorghe Bucur from his final squad despite naming him among overseas players for the Greece matches earlier this month.
Goalkeepers: Ciprian Tatarusanu (Steaua Bucharest), Bogdan Lobont (AS Roma), Silviu Lung (FC Astra)
Defenders: Alexandru Matel (FC Astra) Srgian Luchin (Dinamo Bucharest), Valerica Gaman (FC Astra) Dorin Goian (Asteras Tripolis), Florin Gardos (Steaua Bucharest), Dragos Grigore (Dinamo Bucharest), Razvan Rat (West Ham United), Iasmin Latovlevici (Steaua Bucharest)
Midfielders: Costin Lazar (PAOK Salonika), Banel Nicolita (Nantes), Gabriel Torje (Espanyol), Alexandru Bourceanu (Steaua Bucharest), Ovidiu Hoban(Petrolul Ploiesti), Alexandru Maxim (VfB Stuttgart), Cristian Tanase (Steaua Bucharest)
Strikers: Razvan Cocis (Hoverla Uzhgorod), Gheorghe Grozav (Terek Grozny), Claudiu Keseru (Bastia), Bogdan Stancu (Genclerbirligi), Ciprian Marica (Getafe), Marius Niculae (Hoverla Uzhgorod).
Writing by Angel Krasimirov; editing by Amlan Chakraborty