AMSTERDAM – Despite offseason reports to the contrary, it appears Zenit St. Petersburg attacker Eugene Starikov will start the upcoming Russian Premier League campaign with the champs' reserve side.
Though reports had indicated that the 22-year-old would be off for another loan stint with RPL side Tom Tomsk, Zenit boss Luciano Spalletti still has the youngster in first-team camp and is leaning toward keeping him closer at hand this season.
"He will likely participate in the B-team this season," Zenit press officer Dimitry Zimmerman told MLSsoccer.com. "The manager will make the decision after the training camp."
Earlier this month, Starikov celebrated the signing of an improved deal with Zenit by scoring the winner in a Marbella Cup friendly against Bulgarian top-flighters Lokomotiv Plovdiv. The new contract added a year to his deal.
"His contract has been renewed through midseason 2013," confirmed Zimmerman.
Starikov, who recently took part in his first US national team camp, has yet to appear in competitive action for the Zenit first team. Last season, he bagged a goal in nine games with Tom Tomsk.