Benayoun returns to Israel squad

Israel manager Eli Guttman has named Yossi Benayoun in his squad for the crucial World Cup qualifying double-headers against Portugal and Northern Ireland later this month.

There were fears the Chelsea midfielder would miss out due to his lack of first-team action at Stamford Bridge.

Benayoun came off the bench to place the final minute of Chelsea’s Europa League match against Steau Bucarest last night.

Guttman has called up six players from Ligat Ha’Al leaders Maccabi Tel Aviv, while Hapoel Kiryat Shmona's star keeper Danny Amos is also included.

Israel currently lie second in Group F, ahead of Portugal on goal difference, and five points behind Russia.

Full Israel squad:

Goalkeepers: Awaat, Harush, Amos

Defenders: Meshumar, Spungin, Keinan, Ben-Haim, Gershon, Tibi, Rikan, Shish

Midfielders: Golasa, Melikson, Natcho, Yeini, Alberman, Kiyal, Zahavi, Radi, Rafaelov, Benayoun

Strikers: Atar, Ben-Basat, Shechter, Hemed

Group F standings:
1. Russia Pl. 4, Pts. 12
2. Israel Pl. 4, Pts. 7
3. Portugal Pl. 4, Pts. 7
4. Northern Ireland Pl. 4, Pts. 3
5. Azerbaijan Pl. 4, Pts. 2
6. Luxembourg Pl. 4, Pts. 1

Forthcoming fixtures:
March 22 - Israel vs Portugal
March 26 - Northern Ireland vs Israel
September 6 - Israel vs Azerbaijan
September 10 - Russia vs Israel
October 11 - Portugal vs Israel
October 15 - Israel vs Northern Ireland

Results:
Israel 3 Luxembourg 0
Luxembourg 0 Israel 6
Israel 0 Russia 4
Azerbaijan 1 Israel 1

Last updated: 12:11pm, March 15 2013