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Hartson gives Wales a lift

Celtic FC striker John Hartson has returned to the Wales squad for the UEFA EURO 2004™ qualifier against Italy.

Celtic FC striker John Hartson has returned to the Wales squad for next month's UEFA EURO 2004™ qualifier against Italy.

Milan showdown
A back injury meant Hartson was unable to make the trip to Serbia and Montenegro for last night's fixture. Wales lost the Group 9 encounter 1-0, placing greater importance on the match in Milan on 6 September.

Lack of practice
Also returning to Mark Hughes' selection is Andy Melville, who has been struggling with a heel injury. Neither Fulham FC defender Melville nor Hartson has played a competitive game for their clubs yet this season.

High hopes
"John and Andy are both included again, I hope their fitness levels improve to a required standard," said Hughes. "Two weeks' training and a couple of games under their belts will do them a world of good, if they can achieve that then they have a good chance of being selected."

State of play
Before leaving Belgrade last night, Hughes added: "I have no fears for my players going to Milan. We performed well here and we will go to Italy to do the same." Wales are top of Group 9 with 12 points from their five matches to date. Second-placed Italy are two points behind from the same number of matches while Serbia and Montenegro are a further two points adrift.

Wales squad
Coyne, Crossley, Jones, Ward, Barnard, Delaney, Gabbidon, Melville, Page, Symons, Trollope, Weston, Davies, Giggs, Johnson, Koumas, Oster, Pembridge, Robinson, Savage, Speed, A Williams, Bellamy, Blake, Earnshaw, Hartson, N Roberts.