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Thursday, 15 March, 2001, 16:33 GMT
Koumas accepts Wales invitation
Koumas celebrates his FA Cup goal against Everton
Koumas' FA Cup performances alerted Wales
Wales have moved a step closer to securing the international loyalty of Tranmere midfielder Jason Koumas.

The Wrexham-born player is also eligible to play for Cyprus and England, but has accepted Wales manager Mark Hughes' invitation to join the national squad for next week's Ukraine game.

Wales face a World Cup qualifying double header against Armenia on 24 March and Ukraine on 28 March and there is a chance that Koumas could figure in the latter fixture if he decides his future lies with Wales.

"I am not really thinking about it at the moment as I am concentrating on getting Tranmere out of trouble, but it is nice to be wanted," Koumas said.

"I will have to go home and discuss it with my family, but I will decide sooner rather than later," added the 21-year-old, who has a Cypriot grandmother and an English father.

Wales manager Mark Hughes
Hughes: Wants Koumas for Wales

Tranmere are languishing at the bottom of the First Division and have the small matter of a game with Gillingham next Tuesday - which clashes with Hughes' Wales invite.

But Koumas revealed Welsh Tranmere team-mates Gareth Roberts and Alan Morgan had been giving him some friendly encouragement in training.

Tranmere coach Kevin Sheedy was able to sympathise with the dilemma facing Koumas after he opted for the Republic of Ireland ahead of Wales when he was a 16-year-old at Hereford United.

The Builth Wells-born former Everton star said: "The decision I made weighed heavily on my mind at the time, I was torn between the two and it was a close decision.

Energy and vision

"But I feel I made the right choice, because I played in a World Cup and a European Championship."

Sheedy has been in touch with Wales assistant manager Mark Bowen and the two are in agreement that no pressure will be put on Koumas to make a quick decision.

But with a limited pool of players, the Wales management team will be hoping to count on Koumas' energy and vision in the future.

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See also:

13 Mar 01 |  Fulham
Coleman: I'm not quitting
13 Mar 01 |  Wales
Savage injury boost
12 Mar 01 |  World Cup 2002
Hughes targetting Armenia
13 Mar 01 |  Eng Div 1
Tranmere v Portsmouth preview
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