Former Chinese number one Xia Jiaping and Indian Davis Cup player Asif Ismail are being lined up to play for Hong Kong in this year's Davis Cup campaign, according to captain Derek Ling. Both Xia and Ismail coach in Hong Kong and have fulfilled the two-year residency eligibility requirements. But they have still to be cleared by the International Tennis Federation, who have the last word on former Davis Cup players representing another country. 'We have asked for permission to field them and are awaiting a response,' said Ling yesterday. Hong Kong will begin the Davis Cup programme early next month when they take on Taiwan in the Asia/Oceania Group II first-round tie at Victoria Park. Xia, a three-time Asian champion and currently the trainer with the national squad, and Ismail, a former Asian Games medallist who coaches at the Aberdeen Marina Club, are in the preliminary 10-strong squad. The final squad will be named later this month. 'I'm not saying that they are better than the players we have. But as captain, I want to make certain that I have the opportunity to look at all the players available and to be able to select the best team,' Ling said. Ling said the chances of Xia and Ismail being given the greenlight for the Taiwan tie looked remote as the Hong Kong Tennis Association had only taken the decision to include the duo in their plans quite late. 'We only submitted their names for clearance a month ago. Normally it takes about six months.' Apart from Xia and Ismail, another new face who could be in the squad is teenager Yu Hiu-tung, the current Hong Kong champion by virtue of winning the CRC Open. But it is likely that in the end, Hong Kong will plump for the tested combinations presented by John Hui, Melvin Tong, Wayne Wong and Michael Brown. Brown is recovering from a wrist injury but Ling is happy with the form of the others. 'I'm pleased with the way John [Hui] and Melvin [Tong] have been playing. It looks like the same old squad could be fielded but I will not rule out the chances of others like Adrian Montesino.' Hui and Tong won Hong Kong a bronze medal in the doubles events at the recent China National Games and also did well at the Asian Championships. Ling said the February 8-10 tie against Taiwan would be tough. 'I consider Taiwan as the strongest team in Group II this year. They have a couple of very good players and it will be hard to beat them.' Taiwan should have been playing in Group I this year. But they conceded a walkover to Lebanon, refusing to play their Group II final last year in Beirut due to the September 11 terrorist attack. Lebanon, who beat Hong Kong 3-2 in the second round, advanced to the top Asian tier and left Taiwan in Group II. The Taiwanese are the second seeds in Group II, behind China. If Hong Kong lose to Taiwan, they will meet the losers of the Pakistan v Malaysia tie in a battle to avoid relegation into Group III later this year. By then, Ling will most definitely have the services of Xia and Ismail.