Premier League – Team news: Terry, Lampard doubtful
All the latest ins and outs ahead of the weekend’s action, including Chelsea being made to sweat on two of their top men…
- Manchester United v Aston Villa
- Bolton Wanderers v Arsenal
- Birmingham City v Manchester City
- Derby County v Fulham
- Portsmouth v Wigan Athletic
- Reading v Blackburn Rovers
- Sunderland v West Ham
- Chelsea v Middlesbrough
- Tottenham Hotspur v Newcastle United
- Liverpool v Everton
All matches kick off at 15:00 unless otherwise stated
Saturday 28th March
Portuguese duo Cristiano Ronaldo and Nani both pulled out of Portugal’s squad in midweek. Nani is likely to be replaced by Ryan Giggs on the left wing, though Ronaldo may not be seen as so easily replaceable by manager Alex Ferguson and is set to play.
Olof Mellberg could move back into right-back for Villa at the expense of Craig Gardner now that he has returned from suspension. That looks to be the only change to the season’s most consistent line-up.
Utility man Joey O’Brien came on to replace Ricardo Gardner last week, and will continue at left-back from the start against title-chasing Arsenal. Bolton will be missing influential skipper Kevin Nolan through suspension, however, so Stelios Giannakopoulos is likely to partner Ivan Campo in midfield.
The big news for Arsenal is that full-back Bacary Sagna, a virtual ever-present since arriving last summer, has been ruled out for at least three weeks. Emmanuel Eboue is set to move back into his old role as a result, with Theo Walcott likely to take his place in midfield.
Birmingham are still without the services of James McFadden, who has been such an influence since arriving from Everton, so Argentinian Mauro Zarate will keep his place in attack alongside Mikael Forssell. Olivier Kapo is near to returning but this match has come too soon for the midfielder. Liam Ridgewell is suspended, so Martin Taylor may get the nod in central defence.
Vedran Corluka continues in the heart of defence as Micah Richards is still injured, meaning Nedum Onuoha remains in the Croatian’s regular right-back berth. Michael Johnson should recover from a chest infection in time to keep his place, while winger Martin Petrov should return to the side.
Goalkeeper Roy Carroll should recover from a groin strain in time to feature in this clash between the bottom two. Manager Paul Jewell has no new injury worries, but neither are any of his players back from injury, so his side should be unchanged from the one that lost at Middlesbrough last week.
In-form striker Jermain Defoe returns to the side after a technicality in his transfer ruled him out of the match against his former club, Tottenham, last weekend. With Sol Campbell and Lassana Diarra still out injured, Herman Hreidrasson and Pedro Mendes keep their places in defence and midfield respectively.
Wigan manager Steve Bruce is missing some of his most influential players, with Jason Koumas, Wilson Palacios and Michael Brown all suspended and Antoine Sibierski and Erik Edman out injured. Captain Mario Melchiot could be moved up into midfield, with Ryan Taylor taking his place at right-back.
Even without his brace last week against Birmingham City, Andre Bikey was always going to keep his place in defence with Michael Duberry and Graeme Murty both still out injured. With Bobby Convey still out too, John Oster stays in the side, which set is to be unchanged from last week’s.
With the long-term absences of Brett Emerton and Ryan Nelsen, and the suspension of Christopher Samba, Aaron Mokoena is set for a rare start in defence. Jason Roberts is set to keep his place and partner Benni McCarthy in attack, after Roque Santa Cruz picked up an ankle injury on international duty.
Carlos Edwards joins long-term absentees Ross Wallace and Liam Miller on the injured list, though Grant Leadbitter should take his place in midfield. Kenwyne Jones has recovered from a virus and should start up front.
Teenage striker Freddie Sears is struggling to make the Hammers squad with a groin injury. Jonathan Spector should start in defence ahead of another 18-year-old, James Tomkins. All the rest of the usual suspects are still missing for the injury-ravaged West Ham, including Craig Bellamy, Julien Faubert, Kieron Dyer and Matthew Etherington, though Bobby Zamora is fit again and makes the squad.
Sunday 29th March
Chelsea v Middlesbrough (13:30)
Frank Lampard looks unlikely to recover from the stomach bug that kept him out of England‘s friendly in midweek. It was an especially bad night for Chelsea boss Avram Grant, as John Terry was substituted at half time with a hamstring injury. The Israeli coach will have to wait and see if either is ready to face Middlesbrough on Sunday.
Robert Huth will miss out on the chance to play against his old club as he has not yet recovered from a foot injury. Boro are also without suspended duo Mido and Fabio Rochemback, with Lee Cattermole deputising for the latter.
Liverpool v Everton (16:00)
Fernando Torres has announced that he will be fit for the Merseyside derby after having scans on his back and ankle following last weekend’s clash with Manchester United. The suspension of Javier Mascherano should mean that Steven Gerrard drops back into midfield, making space for Dirk Kuyt to renew his partnership with Torres.
Andy Johnson is a major doubt for Everton as he is still recovering from a groin strain, while Steven Pienaar will also have his fitness assessed late on. Tim Cahill could miss the rest of the season with a metatarsal injury.
Tom Huddlestone looks set to continue in midfield as Jermaine Jenas is not yet fully fit. Captain Ledley King should have regained sufficient fitness to partner Jonathan Woodgate in defence, while Spurs remain without Gareth Bale, Ricardo Rocha, Younes Kaboul and Benoit Assou-Ekotto.
Newcastle are almost missing an entire back five, with Shay Given, Peter Ramage, Claudio Cacapa and Stephen Carr all missing, along with midfielder James Milner. Manager Kevin Keegan may persist with the strike trio of Michael Owen, Mark Viduka and Obafemi Martins following the win over Fulham.