Woods names final squad ahead of Kazakhstan qualifier, Lithuania friendly match

Malta Under-21 national coach Ivan Woods has trimmed his provisional squad to a final cut of 23 players for the double home fixture rolling.

On Thursday the Under-21 side faces Kazakhstan in the fifth UEFA European U21 Qualifying Group B encounter while on Sunday, the team cross swords with Lithuania in a friendly match. Both matches will be played at the Tony Bezzina Stadium in Paola.

The final squad sees the return of foreign-based, Reading forward Basil Tuma who missed the October window and defeats to Belgium and Scotland due to injury along with Jake Vassallo who returns to the Under-21 side after forming part of the senior side provisional squad.

This is also the maiden final cut appearance in the squad for Melita’s Nick Cutajar and Nathan Agius (Mosta FC) while being a first-ever call-up at this level for Deacon Abela (Swieqi United), Żejtun Corinthians midfielder Bjorn Buhagiar, Matteo Gambin who plays his trade with Birkirkara, and Shaisen Attard who plays as a forward player also in the top tier with Gudja United.

Four players will be missing from the squad due to a slight injury, they are Brooklyn Borg (Gżira United), Santa Lucia duo Jed Valletta and Mattias Ellul, together with Pieta’ Hotspurs defender Zean Leonardi.

The squad is made up of:-

GOALKEEPERS – Reeves Cini (Pietà Hotspurs FC), Matthias Debono (Naxxar Lions FC), Hugo Sacco (Eastern New Mexico Univ. – USA).

DEFENDERS – Matthew Ellul (Żabbar St.Patrick FC), Jake Vassallo (Mosta FC), Owen Spiteri (Floriana FC), Deacon Abela (Swieqi United FC).

MIDFIELDERS – Jake Micallef (Leixoes S.C. – POR), Kurt Bondin (Żebbuġ Rangers FC), Andrew Borg (Gżira United FC), Bjorn Buhagiar (Żejtun Corinthians FC), Nick Cutajar (Melita FC), Nathan Agius (Mosta FC), Gianluca Sciberras (Mosta FC), Aleandro Garzia (Floriana FC), Matteo Gambin (Birkirkara FC), Karl Mohnani (Melita FC), Nikolai Micallef ((Naxxar Lions FC).

FORWARDS – Mattia Veselji (Floriana FC), Andrea Zammit (A.S.C. Messina – ITA), Jake Engerer (Sliema Wanderers FC), Shaisen Attard (Gudja United FC), Basil Tuma (Reading FC – ENG).