Chapecoense will sign up to 20 new players

Tue Jan 3, 2017 4:41pm EST
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CHAPECO, Brazil (Reuters) - Chapecoense, the Brazilian football club devastated by an airline crash, will sign up to 20 players for the new season and are reserving shirt numbers for two of the survivors in the hope they can play again, their director of football said on Tuesday.

Almost all the team's senior players were killed when their plane crashed in Colombia on Nov. 28.

The small club from southern Brazil were heading to Medellin to play Atletico Nacional in the final of the Copa Sudamericana when their plane crashed into a mountain, killing 71 people.

Centre back Neto and fullback Alan Ruschel survived, as did reserve goalkeeper Jackson Follmann, who had part of his leg amputated.

Director of football Rui Costa said all three still had a role to play at the club.

"No player this season will use the shirts that were worn by Jackson Follmann, Neto or Alan Ruschel," Costa told reporters.

"More than a tribute, we expect Alan and Neto to come back and wear them. Follmann sadly won't be able to but he will certainly be back here with us in some capacity. The only ones that can wear those jerseys are them."

Costa said the club would sign between 18 and 20 new players before they start their season on Jan. 26 with a home game against Joinville.   Continued...

Alan Ruschel, player of Brazilian soccer team Chapecoense, lies on a stretcher as he arrives at a hospital in Brazil, after he survived a plane crash with his teammates aboard, in Chapeco, Brazil December 13, 2016. REUTERS/Diego Vara