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South Africa's Bartlett hopes to be fit for Ghana match

© Reuters 2002

SEGOU, Mali, Jan 21 (Reuters) - South African captain Shaun Bartlett is hopeful he will recover from a calf injury in time to play for his country in their next African Nations Cup match on Thursday.

Bartlett, who plays for English premier league club Charlton Athletic, went off injured after just 17 minutes of South Africa's opening group B match against Burkina Faso on Sunday, which ended in a goalless draw.

South Africa's leading goal scorer did not train on Monday and said he only had a 50 percent chance of playing against Ghana in the next match at Segou.

"We'll be working on the treatment table and I'm really hoping to be ready. But we have to wait and see," said Bartlett.

The 29-year-old striker was a reluctant participant at the Nations Cup, claiming he had been promised he would be allowed to stay at his English club.

But the South African Football Association sought the intervention of FIFA to persuade Bartlett to play and he was also given a deadline by his club manager Alan Curbishley.

Asked what his manager's reaction would be to his injury, Bartlett said: "Naturally I think he'll be concerned but injuries happen in football. It's not something you go out to achieve or something you can always guard against."

Bartlett's next match will be his 60th cap for South Africa, for whom he has scored 24 goals including several vital strikes in a successful World Cup qualifying campaign.

He was also the leading goalscorer at the last African Nations Cup two years, co-hosted by Ghana and Nigeria.

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