|18 June 2005|
Estonia's assistant coach Ullar Kerde has revealed his side's preparations for their upcoming Eurobasket 2005 qualifiers have been rocked by a spate of injuries.
The Estonians face the Czech Republic on August 19 as they begin a gruelling qualification campaign to reach the European finals, which will be staged in Belgrade this September.
But Kerde and head coach Tiit Sokk are faced with a crippling injury crisis.
Of the duo's provisional list of 24 players, only 10 are currently available for selection.
Monday's training session finished with only eight players fit, with those from Estonian domestic giants Tartu Rock causing the national management the most headaches.
Kerde said: "The training period is hard and the old injuries that have not been fully treated are coming out again.
"All six of the Rock players are out of action. Silver Leppik and Vallo Allingu have scheduled nose and tonsil operations without even informing us.
"If a player does not want to develop, there is nothing that we can do. There are very few opportunities for the Estonian players to show themselves, the national team games are the best chance for that."
Of the other Rock stars, Tarmo Kikerpill is nursing a groin injury, Martin Viiask is out after a foot operation while Marek Doronin is laid up after a niggling knee injury flared up again.
Talented playmaker Valmo Kriisa, meanwhile, has had his wrist examined by the doctors after a torn ligament forced him out of action for a month.
Kriisa said: "I have two options: have my hand plastered and hope it will do the job or have the operation.
"That would mean a recovery process of at least three months when I could not play for the team but I would be back in form for next season.
"I really want to play for the national team, but if my injury won't allow it, then I just can't."