- Associated Press - Monday, November 9, 2015

TIRANA, Albania (AP) - Albania coach Giovanni de Biasi included two newcomers in his 24-man squad for friendlies against Kosovo and Georgia as the national team prepares for its first major tournament.

De Biasi called up Swiss-born defender Frederic Veseli, who plays for Lugano, and Inter Milan striker Rei Manaj. Three were missing because of injury.

Albania qualified for next year’s European Championship in France by finishing second in Group I, behind Portugal but ahead of Denmark, Serbia and Armenia.

De Biasi said a place in his squad for was open to anyone “who always plays well, who always fights, who considers himself part of a team, who laughs even when replaced, who always jumps to come when convened at the national team.”

The Italian coach added: “We have achieved so far as a team, not because we are better than the others.”

Albania faces Kosovo in Pristina on Friday and Georgia in Tirana three days later.

Kosovo, where most of the Albanian national team players come from, is expecting to join UEFA next year - a move that could lead to a place in 2018 World Cup qualifying. De Biasi said both federations have agreed that existing players will not change teams.

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