Hartson to start if Wales play

European Championship
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The Independent Online
John Hartson, of Arsenal, stands by to make his international debut for Wales tonight, if the match against Bulgaria goes ahead. The European Championship Group Seven qualifier was subject to an early morning pitch inspection at the Vasil Levski stadium after six inches of snow fell in Sofia yesterday.

The state of the pitch might be immaterial to Mark Bowen. The Norwich full-back went down with tonsillitis before Wales' final training session and is unlikely to be fit.

The decision to move his fellow full-back David Phillips out of Bowen's room was precautionary, but the illness will disrupt Mike Smith's plans. "It makes a lot of difference if he is not fit because it will mean we have to start shuffling people around," the Wales manager said.

If Bowen is ruled out, Crystal Palace's Chris Coleman is likely to move to left-back with Sunderland's Andrew Melville coming in to partner Kit Symons in the centre of the defence.

Hartson is likely to partner Aston Villa's Dean Saunders in an attack that is completed by Manchester United's Ryan Giggs. Bulgaria's Hristo Stoichkov has suffered all week from breathing problems and a high temperature but is expected to be fit.

BULGARIA (probable): Mikhailov; Kiriakov, Ivanov (or Yordanov), Tzvetanov, Houbtchev, Yankov, Kostadinov, Stoichkov, Penev, Letchkov, Balakov.

WALES (probable): Southall (Everton); Phillips (Nottm Forest), Bowen (Norwich), Horne (Everton, capt), Symons (Portsmouth), Coleman (C Palace), Speed (Leeds), Jones (Wimbledon), Hartson (Arsenal), Saunders (A Villa), Giggs (Man Utd).

n Wales Under-21 lost 3-1 to their Bulgarian counterparts in Plovdiv yesterday. They fell behind to a first-minute penalty, converted by Roumen Ivanov. Crewe's Robbie Savage equalised eight minutes later before further goals by Nikolai Pramatarov and Roumen Hristov.

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