Premier League – Team news: Foster set for start
- Derby v Manchester United
- Liverpool v Reading
- Portsmouth v Aston Villa
- Sunderland v Chelsea
- West Ham v Blackburn
- Arsenal v Middlesbrough
- Fulham v Everton
- Wigan v Bolton
- Manchester City v Spurs
- Birmingham v Newcastle
Click on the individual match links for predicted line-ups.
Saturday (all matches 15:00 GMT kick-off unless specified):
Derby County v Manchester United
Derby are without long-term injury victims Giles Barnes and Claude Davis and quite possibly veteran defender Alan Stubbs, who was forced off early during the 6-1 mauling at Chelsea in midweek. Rob Earnshaw is tipped to make a start alongside Kenny Miller, although former Manchester United trainee David Jones could be brought in to help pack the midfield after his goal against the Blues.
United, meanwhile, will rush Foster back into action despite the former Stoke and Watford keeper only recently returning to training after almost a year out with a serious knee injury. The 24-year-old will have to play, with Edwin van der Sar injured during the 1-0 FA Cup quarter final defeat to Portsmouth and Tomasz Kuszczak banned after his sending-off late in that game.
With no European game in midweek United could go full-strength, with Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney unlikely to both be rested as they were for the trip to Fulham two weeks previously. Louis Saha will be involved after coming through training successfully following a knee scare, while Ryan Giggs and Gary Neville have recovered from injury but are expected to be on the bench. Mikael Silvestre is a long-term absentee.
Jamie Carragher is expected to return to centre-half after being used as a full-back to help restrict Inter in Liverpool’s Champions League win on Tuesday, while Martin Skrtel – who impressed in the 1-0 victory at the Giuseppe Meazza – could stay on in place of Sami Hyppia. Andriy Voronin returned to the bench in that game after an ankle injury although is unlikely to start with Peter Crouch and Dirk Kuyt fit to partner Fernando Torres.
Reading are still without midfielder Emerse Fae, utility-man Brynjar Gunnarsson, winger Glenn Little and captain Graeme Murty, although centre-back Michael Duberry and USA wide-man Bobby Convey came through a reserve team win over Chelsea. Leroy Lita will not feature after joining Championship hopefuls Charlton on a month’s loan to gain some first team football.
Pompey’s Richard Hughes is out with a heavily bruised leg, although fellow midfielder Pedro Mendes returns. Milan Baros is expected to start alongside Jermain Defoe, with boss Harry Redknapp spoilt for choice in midfield as Lassana Diarra, Sulley Muntari, Papa Bouba Diop and Mendes are all available to vie for two slots in the centre.
Villa, meanwhile, will continue to take great glee in stretching both their threadbare squad and opposition defences with the usual extra-width, Ashley Young and Gaby Agbonlahor set to flank John Carew. Despite fearing he had played his last game for Villa, Olof Mellberg came on as a sub at half-time during the 1-1 draw with Middlesbrough as Villa have no recognized senior right back, Craig Gardner unimpressive in that position and likely to be moved back into midfield.
Sunderland v Chelsea
Chelsea have no major fitness problems aside from Petr Cech‘s ongoing ankle trouble, Carlo Cudicini set to continue his role as deputy. Andriy Shevchenko played in the reserve defeat to Reading, as did Claudio Pizarro, so the pair are likely to remain on the bench with one or both of Nicolas Anelka and Didier Drogba set to start.
West Ham v Blackburn
The Hammers are suffering in midfield with Lee Bowyer, Julien Faubert, Matty Etherington and long-term injury victim Kieron Dyer all out in addition to Luis Boa Morte‘s suspension. Mark Noble and Nolberto Solano are available though, and Dean Ashton is ready to partner Carlton Cole after Bobby Zamora failed to impress. Alan Curbishley is also hoping for Matthew Upson to be fully fit after shipping 12 goals in their last three Premier League matches.
Rovers, meanwhile, will stick with at least a very similar line-up to that which drew with Fulham last weekend. Ryan Nelsen is still injured while David Dunn could challenge Tugay for a starting slot.
Arsenal v Middlesbrough (17:15)
Not a great few weeks domestically for Arsenal and they will be looking to hit back hard in order to get their title bid back on track. Netherlands striker Robin van Persie is close to full fitness after a lengthy spell out and could step in for Nicklas Bendtner, who scored a last-minute equaliser against Aston Villa two weeks ago.
Fulham v Everton (13:30)
No new problems for Fulham, although veteran Finn Jari Litmanen has returned to his homeland to fit specially designed insoles to aid ankle trouble.
Tim Cahill is a slight doubt for Everton with a hip knock, while Manuel Fernandes and David Vaughan are both sidelined with knee injuries. Nuno Valente is back from a thigh strain, while Leon Osman is fully fit after a spell out.
Wigan v Bolton (15:00)
Wigan’s Emile Heskey is only a slight doubt after a suspected recurrence of a metatarsal injury in the draw with Chelsea was deemed to be only a scare, the England striker returning to full training in the week.
Bolton are expected to be without Jussi Jaaskelainen once more, the Finland keeper having hamstring and back trouble, with Ali Al-Habsi set to continue as his deputy. Kevin Nolan and Gavin McCann were also absent from the UEFA Cup last 16 defeat to Sporting, along with El-Hadji Diouf, Andy O’Brien, Gavin McCann and Kevin Davies. All are set to return for the crunch bottom-of-table clash.
Manchester City v Tottenham (16:00)
City skipper Richard Dunne is racing to be fit for the visit of Spurs after sustaining a nasty gash to his shin during last weekend’s defeat to Reading but Nedum Onuoha is ready to provide cover at the back after having recovered from a hamstring injury. Martin Petrov is again absent as he completes a three-match suspension while Michael Ball also sits out the game, with a twisted knee. Micah Richards is recovering from knee surgery so Vedran Corlucka will continue at centre half with Sun Jihai coming in at full back.
Spurs boss Juande Ramos will be able to recall on Alan Hutton to the side after the right-back missed the UEFA Cup defeat to PSV Eindhoven through ineligibility. But defenders Younes Kaboul (knee) and Riccardo Rocha (groin) are doubtful and could join long-term absentees Gareth Bale and Benoit Assou-Ekoto on the sidelines.
Birmingham v Newcastle (20:00)
Martin Taylor is again missing for Birmingham as he completes a three-match ban for his sending off against Arsenal. Cameron Jerome came off the bench in mideweek to prove his fitness after a toe injury and Blues boss Alex McLeish has no fresh injury worries.
Mark Viduka is set to make a return for Newcastle on Monday evening having shaken off a combination of calf and hamstring injuries. Joey Barton also returns after he missed last weekend’s trip to Liverpool due to his bail conditions barring him from entering Liverpool. But James Milner (foot), Shay Given (groin), Emre (calf) and Stephen Carr (hamstring) are all out.