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The Turkish coach is well aware that his injury-ravaged squad will have a monumental battle on their hands against la Furia Roja.

Euro 2008 semi-finalists Turkey will go head-to-head with Spain twice over the next week in what could be a decisive period of their World Cup qualifying campaign.

Coach Fatih Terim not only has to worry about taking on what he described as one of the strongest teams in the world but he also has to fret about the injuries and fitness concerns of several key players.

The Turkish squad arrived in the Spanish capital yesterday and commenced their first workout session at Madrid’s Valdebebas training ground without a number of integral figures.

Defenders Servet Cetin and Gokhan Zan failed to travel with the squad while Gokhan Gonul, Gokhan Unal and Hamit Altintop are all doubtful for the first meeting at the Santiago Bernabeu due to lack of match fitness. And Terim knows that his side are up against the wall, even though the Spanish have their own injury headaches.

“I know Spain will have a few big absences such as [Andres] Iniesta but it should not affect them too much because all their players are very good,” he told a group of journalists at the end of the training session.

“However, the absences of our own players can cause a lot of damage because all the injuries are in the same positions and we do not have a lot to choose from.”

After missing their chance to take on la Furia Roja in Austria/Switzerland last year in the European Championships, Terim is hoping that his players will use this opportunity to come up against the eventual winners as a source of motivation.

“We were really looking forward to playing Spain at Euro 2008 and now we will have our chance,” he smiled. “They have one of the strongest teams in the world and their clubs are also at a good level in Europe, unlike ours.

“It will be necessary to play a very complete game against them in midfield to neutralise them. My players will have to apply a lot of pressure and run a lot.

“It will be very difficult, obviously, but if we lose these two games, it will not be the end of the world.  We will still have time [to qualify].”

Spain currently head Group 5 of the UEFA World Cup qualifying section with 12 points, four clear of Turkey, who are only a solitary point ahead of Belgium.

KS Leong,