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Slovenia's Pavlin to miss Hong Kong trip

© Reuters 2002

LJUBLJANA, Jan 28 (Reuters) - Slovenia could be without midfielder Miran Pavlin as well as three other first-choice players at the Hong Kong Cup tournament next month, according to reports in Slovenia on Monday.

Pavlin said he would skip the tournament - part of Slovenia's preparations for their first appearance at the World Cup finals - to play for his Portuguese club Porto.

"I will most probably miss the Hong Kong tournament since coach Jose Mourinho has told me I would be one of Porto's key player in the Portuguese championship and the Champions League," Pavlin was quoted as saying by daily Delo. Mourinho replaced Octavio Machado as coach of the Oporto club last week.

"I believe it is more important for me to consolidate my place within my club now in order to prepare as much as possible for the peak of the season - the World Cup."

Slovenia will play in the February 12-15 tournament along with Honduras, China and Hong Kong and coach Srecko Katanec - who had included Pavlin in his 20-strong squad for the trip - said he would like to play his best team against Honduras.

But Lecce forward Sebastijan Cimirotic, Hapoel Tel-Aviv forward Milan Osterc and Slavia Prague defender Goran Sankovic have already indicated they might have to miss the tournament through injury. Slovenia have been drawn in group B for World Cup finals, along with Paraguay, South Africa and Spain.

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