Hughes praises Hartson

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The Independent Online

Mark Hughes has given his stamp of approval to John Hartson's high profile move to Celtic as he plots Wales's latest attempt at World Cup qualification. The Wales manager is also more than happy that Craig Bellamy has stayed in the Premiership with Newcastle following Coventry's relegation.

Both Hartson and Bellamy – who were Coventry's front two at the end of last season while they battled to avoid the drop – are Hughes's first choice strikers, and both have managed to maintain top-flight status after leaving Highfield Road.

On Hartson, Hughes said: "The size of the club he has joined and the opportunity to play European football can only help John and us.

"John was first class for us last season, very much the centre of everything we did.

"I am delighted that he is playing well at a good level with good players around him. It is then when you see the best of John. "He needs to always be playing and stimulated and doing so at the highest level. And the mere fact that he is playing in Europe this season can only help his performances for Wales as well."

The Wales manager has included Hartson and Nathan Blake in his squad for the home match against Armenia and the trip to Norway in Oslo on 5 September.

Hughes wants the two strikers to be with the squad for the entire fortnight of preparation, even though they are both suspended for the Armenian match in Cardiff.

Hughes has included the injured trio of Gary Speed, Robbie Savage and John Robinson in the squad. Burnley's new signing from Manchester City, Gareth Taylor, has also been recalled for the first time in three years.

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