Football: Reggae Boy Gardner on stand-by

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RICARDO GARDNER, the Jamaican World Cup player, is in line to make his Bolton debut at Hartlepool tonight as his new club attempt to avoid an embarrassing early exit from the Worthington Cup.

Wanderers were unconvincing as they ground out a 1-0 victory at the Reebok Stadium in the first leg two weeks ago and the Third Division side go into the rematch with high hopes of causing an upset.

The Bolton manager, Colin Todd, is looking to Reggae Boy Gardner, a pounds 1m summer signing from Harbour View who played in all three of his country's World Cup matches in France, to call the tune.

The 19-year-old Gardner was on the bench in the 2-2 draw at Bradford on Sunday and Todd said: "Ricardo is in the squad for Hartlepool, but I haven't made any definite decisions about the team yet. The most important thing for us is to keep the continuity in the side.

"But we'll be going in positively and we'll be trying to extend our 1-0 lead, not trying to protect it."

The former PSV Eindhoven striker Eidur Gudjohnson could also make his debut, but Scott Sellars, Keith Branagan and Robbie Elliott are still sidelined, while Michael Johansen is suspended.

Crystal Palace, like Bolton relegated from the Premiership last year, will be guarding against going out prematurely when they host Torquay.

The Eagles went out of the competition, then called the Coca-Cola Cup, at the second-round stage last year after losing on away goals to Hull. They go into their first round, second leg clash with the Third Division side level at 1-1.

"It'll be a hard game against Torquay," the Palace manager, Terry Venables, said. "We got caught early on by a goal at their place and they deserved to go one-up against us."

Palace have drawn with Bolton, lost at Birmingham and beaten Oxford in their first three matches back in the First Division. Saturday's 2-0 defeat of Oxford was their last match and Venables added: "One swallow doesn't make a summer, as they say, but there have been good bits and pieces of our play so far this season."

Palace have two main injury doubts, with Paul Warhurst and striker Matt Jansen struggling with hamstring problems.