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Zenit without striker Pogrebnyak for UEFA Cup final

SoccerNews in UEFA Europa League 12 May 2008

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Russian champions Zenit St Petersburg will go into Wednesday's UEFA Cup final against Scotland's Glasgow Rangers weakened by the absence of top striker Pavel Pogrebnyak.

The 24-year-old Russian international, who is this season's UEFA Cup joint top scorer on 10 with Bayern Munich marksman Luca Toni, will miss the final after being booked in the return semi-final with the German champions.

However, Zenit manager Dick Advocaat insisted that the absence of his top striker would not sink his side's chances of a first European trophy.

“Pavel (Pogrebnyak) has performed well in European cups this season,” Advocaat said. “I'm very pleased with his form. His absence is a serious loss but definitely not a tragedy for us.”

“During this season we have repeatedly been forced to play without our top players, but nevertheless have managed to reach the final. I believe we can find a worthy substitution for Pogrebnyak.”

Zenit, who were given a rest from the domestic league to better prepare for UEFA Cup final in Manchester, were holding their practice sessions in the Netherlands.

On Saturday they recorded a 2-2 draw in a friendly with the Dutch league side AZ Alkmaar.

Zenit trailed 2-0, but managed to draw level with defender Roman Shirokov and Pogrebnyak netting one apiece.

Despite Pogrebnyak's absence, Zenit will be able to call on a near full-strength squad with striker Andrei Arshavin and midfielders Radek Sirl and Fernando Ricksen having served suspensions in the return semi-final with Bayern.

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