Bulgaria coach Plamen Markov has named an 18-man squad for next week’s friendly against EURO 2004™ qualifying group rivals Croatia.
Jankovic gets first call
PFC Litex Lovech forward Zoran Jankovic has been selected for the first time since taking Bulgarian nationality in 2001. The Yugoslavian-born player is the top scorer in the Bulgarian Professional League but was never called upon by previous national coach Stoicho Mladenov.
Three key players are missing from the squad. Litex forward Hristo Yovov, who has not figured for his country since a dispute with Mladenov, 1. FC Kaiserslautern player Marian Histrov, who is not yet fully-fit after a long-term injury, and Panionis GS midfield player Krasimir Chomakov.
Defensive duo return
Also absent is injured second-choice goalkeeper Yordan Gospodinov of PFC Neftochimik. He has been replaced by PFC Levski Sofia’s Georgi Petkov. Two players returning to the fold after lengthy absences are Levski defender Elin Topuzakov and Charlton Athletic FC defender Radostin Kishishev.
"I am happy that a few injured players can now return and take part in the friendly against Croatia," Markov said on naming his squad. As well as preparing for the match on Wednesday 13 February, he is involved in discussions with representatives of Belgium, Croatia, Estonia and Andorra over the schedule of matches for EURO 2004™ qualifying Group 8.
Zdravkov, G Petkov, Kirilov, Markov, Kishishev, I Petkov, Pazin, Topuzakov, Peev, Yanchev, S Petrov, M Petkov, Balakov, Berbatov, Jankovic, Manchev, M Petrov, Ivanov.
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