Injured Berbatov to miss Bulgaria's qualifier

September 4, 2006

SOFIA, Sept 4 (Reuters) - Levski Sofia striker Hristo Yovov and midfielder Dimitar Telkiiski have been called up to Bulgaria's squad in place of the injured Dimitar Berbatov for Wednesday's Euro 2008 Group G qualifier against Slovenia.

'They (Yovov and Telkiiski) are in very good form and I believe we made the right choice by calling them into the squad," Bulgaria coach Hristo Stoichkov said on Monday.

'We gave possession away very easily against Romania and Telkiiski is a player who can keep possession. Yovov is very experienced and he had played some really good matches in Europe this season.'

Tottenham Hotspur striker Berbatov will miss Bulgaria's game on Wednesday due to a groin injury that could keep him out for two weeks.

The 25-year-old, who joined the English Premier League club from Bayer Leverkusen for 16 million euros ($20.57 million) in May, had needed a pain-killing injection to play just over an hour of Saturday's 2-2 draw with Romania in Group G.

'I suffered the injury during Tottenham's match against Sheffield United in the Premiership,' Berbatov said, recalling the game on August 22. 'I thought it was over, but unfortunately I felt some pain before the game with Romania.

'I still don't know exactly how long I'll remain out but perhaps it'll be 10 days to two weeks. It's a pity that I won't be able to help my team mates in the Slovenia match.'

Along with international duty, Berbatov will almost certainly miss Tottenham's league game at Manchester United on Saturday.

Berbatov's injury is another blow for Bulgaria coach Hristo Stoichkov, who has lost a fourth player from his original squad.

Croatian-born Igor Tomasic has been forced out after an administrative problem with his Bulgarian nationality, while Wigan Athletic's Svetoslav Todorov suffered a leg injury and did not make the trip to the Black Sea port of Constanta.

Stoichkov called up goalkeeper Stoian Kolev on Sunday to replace Georgi Petkov, who took a kick in the head during the match with Romania.

Stoichkov was due to say later on Monday if he will replace the missing players for the qualifier against Slovenia.

Berbatov's injury will leave Stoichkov with limited options up front, with only Atletico Madrid's Martin Petrov, Juventus's Valeri Bozhinov and Dalien Shide's Zoran Yankovic available.