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U-17 World Cup

Koeman accepts pressure is mounting

By ESPN Staff

Hiddink to ignore Spurs over Pavlyuchenko

Russia boss Guus Hiddink will ignore pleas from Tottenham not to risk their new £13.8million striker Roman Pavlyuchenko in World Cup action against Wales.

Spurs wrote to the Russian FA asking for the former Spartak Moscow striker to be excused international duty in the Lokomotiv stadium because of an ankle injury.

But Hiddink insists that the 26-year-old will play against Wales in Russia's opening group four match.

And he said: ''He must give everything for the national side and only after the match will he consider his obligations to Spurs.

''Spurs did send us a letter suggesting that he did not play. But our medical staff, and those from his previous club say he is healthy, and I must take that same view.''

He added: ''It was a strong suggestion that we should leave him out, but if you fear injury you would never play anyone.

''If Spurs had a league game coming up and were worried about players being injured, nobody would ever play. Spurs are being over-concerned.

''There is always the fear of injury. People can fall down the steps! But you should not sign big players if you do not want them to play.''

Spurs clearly wanted to make sure that their new man would be fit to make his debut against Aston Villa at Villa Park next Monday.

Hiddink has no intention of being swayed by the north London club but he said: ''I know (Tottenham manager) Juande Ramos and I hope to visit Spurs in a short time to discuss things.

''Pavlyuchenko is fully recovered, he has trained all week and there has not been a single problem.

''Now he must give everything for the national team. There is always a danger of injury, but he must give everything to Russia now.''

Hiddink finished his media conference with a smile then a theatrical stumble down the steps from the podium to make his point.

Russia will field a side that will be very close to the one that lost the Euro 2008 semi-final against Spain on June 26 in Vienna, with Andrei Arshavin - left out recently by Zenit St Petersburg because of his summer-long transfer saga - certain to start.

Hiddink wants to see his hugely impressive side build on their European finals heroics.

He said: ''I feel this side has improved, now they have got to make things happen as soon as possible. A big step would be to win our first qualifying home game.

''We know this group will be difficult. Only one country will qualify to the finals, the second will go into a play-off. And already Germany have got three points, and they always manage to be where they want to be.

''We also believe that Wales will be more difficult than some people expect. They are a team in transition, and they are energetic with a strong fighting spirit.

''Russia, though, must prove they can cope with the pressure. We must use this beautiful moment for Russian football to take the next bid step up.

''We must not be fearful or cautious. We must all take this chance to progress from what we achieved in Euro 2008.''

Hiddink admits to great respect for what Wales boss John Toshack is doing in rebuilding his squad.

He said: ''In modern football there is now no separation between big and small nations. You saw at the weekend that Italy only equalised in the last minute to get a 2-2 draw in Cyprus.

''Small teams are always now better organised, they all make it difficult to play against them.

''And we remember that Wales took points from the Czech Republic and Germany in their last qualification group. We must make sure they do not do that to us.

''I know John Toshack, we crossed swords when I was at Valencia and he was with Spanish clubs. I know him, and I like his way, he has a very British sense of humour.

''We know Wales will be missing some big names, Craig Bellamy, Jason Koumas and Danny Gabbidon. But that is not always a setback. The players coming in will be more motivated to take their chance.

''He has done a very good job bringing in young players and they need our respect.''


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