Youth quandary for Hughes

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The Independent Football

Mark Hughes must decide whether to stick with the tried and trusted or give youth its head as he prepares Wales for a tough World Cup qualifier in Kiev tonight.

Away to the power of the Ukraine is maybe not the place to blood youngsters. And despite Hughes initially claiming their World Cup dream was over, Wales still have a faint glimmer of a Group Five lifeline, so the former Manchester United striker may well contain his desire to bring in the new faces.

Wales must find a midfield replacement for the injured Robbie Savage from the side which lost 2-1 in Cardiff to Poland on Saturday. His selection problems could also be further confused by the injury doubts over both full-backs, Mark Delaney (hamstring) and Darren Barnard (toe). The only obvious replacements are centre back Robert Page and midfielder Mark Pembridge, who is also struggling with an ankle injury.

Hughes may be forced into big changes or just stick with experience in the Olimpiysky Stadium, where victory would send Wales into the final three games still clinging to their World Cup dreams. "It's now not a case of throwing in the kids and watching them sink," Hughes said. "Ukraine are a very good team and I don't want to do that and see them struggle. I'd rather wait for the right occasion.

Hughes may opt for the greater experience of either Leicester's Matthew Jones or Carl Robinson from Wolves, rather than Tottenham's mercurial youngster Simon Davies.

WALES (4-4-1-1, probable): P Jones (Southampton); Delaney (Aston Villa), Page (Watford), Melville (Fulham), Barnard (Barnsley); M Jones (Leicester City), Speed (Newcastle United), Pembridge (Everton), Giggs (Manchester United), Hartson (Coventry City), Blake (Blackburn Rovers).

Ukraine: To be announced.

Referee: J Gomes (Por).

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