Bulgaria coach Plamen Markov has allowed captain Krassimir Balakov to miss the friendly game against Spain.
The 36-year-old VfB Stuttgart midfield player had asked to be rested for the game and Markov has allowed him to take a well-deserved break, along with two players who faced practical problems getting to the game - Yugoslavian-born players Predrag Pazhin and Zoran Jankovic, both of whom play their club football in China.
In Balakov's absence, experienced PFC Cherno More goalkeeper Zdravko Zdravkov will take over the captain's armband, and be joined by TSV 1860 München midfield player Daniel Borimirov who returns after a two-year absence from the national side to make his first appearance under Markov.
Borimirov had announced his international retirement in August, claiming that he wanted to spend more time with his family, but the 32-year-old veteran of Bulgaria's famous 1994 FIFA World Cup finals campaign has been persuaded to rejoin the national side.
With Gueorgui Peev of FC Dynamo Kyiv struggling with injury, Markov has brought in PFC CSKA Sofia midfield player Todor Yanchev in case Peev is unable to play, and young PFC Levski Sofia goalkeeper Stoyan Kolev has also joined the party.
Off to London
Before the friendly game next Wednesday, Markov has travelled to London as part of a campaign to watch some of Bulgaria's British-based players in action as he continues to monitor his side following an excellent start to their UEFA EURO 2004™ qualifying campaign.
Zdravkov, Kolev, Kishishev, Kirilov, Zagorcic, G Petrov, Stoianov, Petkov, Stilian Petrov, Borimirov, Yanchev, Svetoslav Petrov, Peev, Berbatov, Manchev, Todorov, Dimitrov, Chilikov, M Petrov.
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