Bulgaria lose Berbatov for Ireland qualifier


WORLD CUP QUALIFIERS: Dimitar Berbatov will be conspicuous by his absence when Bulgaria arrive in Dublin during week for next Saturday’s World Cup qualifier against the Republic of Ireland. Berbatov picked up an ankle injury during Manchester United’s defeat at Fulham yesterday.

The 28-year-old Bulgaria captain, who boasts a remarkable scoring ratio with 41 goals in 67 full internationals, will also miss Bulgaria’s meeting with Cyprus the following Wednesday.

"There's no chance Berbatov of playing against Ireland and Cyprus," Bulgarian national team doctor Mihail Iliev revealed today.

"I've told to Manchester United's medical staff and they informed me that he'll need to rest in the next two weeks and his foot will be immovable during that period," he added.

Berbatov's injury is another blow for Bulgaria coach Stanimir Stoilov who has already lost Manchester City winger Martin Petrov and Leicester City defender Alexandar Tunchev due to injuries.

Stoilov is yet to announce Berbatov's replacement.

Bulgaria, third in Group Eight with three points from three matches, will be desperate to avoid defeat in Dublin on Saturday to keep alive their hopes of reaching the finals in South Africa. Italy top the standings with 10 points from four games, followed by Ireland who trail only on goal difference.