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Kerzhakov, Bulykin ready to replace Pogrebnyak for Russia

SoccerNews in European Championships 30 May 2008

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Dynamo Moscow striker Alexander Kerzhakov said Friday he was ready to replace injured forward Pavel Pogrebnyak in the Russian national side if necessary.

“I’m ready to accept an invitation to the national side anytime. I’m still in top form,” Kerzhakov told the press.

Pogrebnyak, joint top scorer along with Bayern Luca Toni in last season’s UEFA Cup campaign with 10 goals, on Wednesday injured his left knee during a warm-up match with Serbia at Burghausen, Germany, which Russia won 2-1.

The Zenit St Petersburg star opened the scoring against Serbia with a superb 35-metre freekick 12 minutes into the match.

Another Russian forward, Dmitry Bulykin, who is currently playing with German Bundesliga side Bayer Leverkuzen, also voiced his readiness to replace Pogrebnyak.

“I’m in my top form now,” Bulykin said. “And I’m ready to join and help our squad at the Euro-2008 finals in case they need me.”

Later Russia’s Dutch coach Guus Hiddink said however that he was hopeful of a recovery for Pogrebnyak and that he would be fit enough to play at the June 7 to 29 event in Switzerland and Austria.

Hiddink said of Pogrebnyak: “He is not going to be able to train in the next few days but it’s possible he will be fit for Euro 2008. We’ll just have to wait and see over the next few days.”

Russia’s Group D opponents next month are Spain on June 10, Greece on June 14 and then Sweden four days later.

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