Premier League – Team news: Owen to return


Brief team news from this weekend’s Premier League games, with Newcastle captain Michael Owen set for his latest return from injury.

Kick-offs 15:00 unless stated


Manchester United v Liverpool (12:45)

Alex Ferguson may decide to rest veterans Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes, who played in Wednesday’s game against Internazionale. Park Ji-Sung and Darren Fletcher are the likeliest candidates to replace them. Long-term absentees Gary Neville, Wes Brown and Owen Hargreaves are still no nearer selection, while Rafael da Silva is also unavailable through injury.

After the devastating 4-0 win against Real Madrid, Rafa Benitez may go easy on his trademark squad rotation. He welcomes back Albert Riera for Liverpool after his midweek suspension, but Yossi Benayoun remains confined to the treatment room with a hamstring problem.

Arsenal v Blackburn Rovers

Arsenal striker Eduardo will be absent, with the Brazilian Croat nursing a groin strain following the Gunners’ Champions League extra-time win against Roma. Andrei Arshavin is likely to start, with Theo Walcott pushing for a place in midfield along with Alexandre Song.

Blackburn boss Sam Allardyce is without striker Roque Santa Cruz (knee) and may continue to deploy Jason Roberts as a lone striker after the policy earned a win away to Fulham.

Everton v Stoke City

Everton are without Tony Hibbert (thigh), while James Vaughan‘s return is further hampered by an ongoing knee complaint. Jack Rodwell is likely to come back after recovering from a dead leg.

David Moyes’s opposite number Tony Pulis has no injury or suspension worries as the Potters boss debates whether to partner Ricardo Fuller with James Beattie in attack.

Hull City v Newcastle United

Michael Owen (pictured) is set to return for Newcastle as Chris Hughton’s side, having finally recovered from the ankle injury sustained against Manchester City on January 28. Nicky Butt and Damien Duff are both back in contention. Kevin Nolan is suspended.

Hull boss Phil Brown has Andy Dawson available for selection following a ban, but Dean Marney remains suspended for the Tigers.

Middlesbrough v Portsmouth

Middlesbrough manager Gareth Southgate is likely to name an unchanged side, despite Justin Hoyte and Matthew Bates having sustained knocks against Everton last Sunday.

Pompey manager Paul Hart looks set to keep faith with his side too, with Richard Hughes and Marc Wilson challenging for places after shaking off injuries.

Bolton Wanderers v Fulham

Bolton manager Gary Megson has a near-clean bill of health, with just Joey O’Brien unable to challenge for a starting spot due to a knee injury.

Fulham make the trip to the Reebok, with boss Roy Hodgson forced to reshuffle his back-line after Aaron Hughes sustained a knock in midweek, giving long-time substitute Toni Kallio a start.

Sunderland v Wigan Athletic

Ricky Sbragia and Steve Bruce have to do without Kieran Richardson and Lee Cattermole respectively, with both players suspended.

The Black Cats have serious doubts over the fitness of Anton Ferdinand, with Nyron Nosworthy also sidelined, while for the Latics, Antoine Sibierski will be kept out of the game with a hamstring problem.


Chelsea v Manchester City (13:30)

The game comes too early for Ricardo Carvalho, who is close to making his full return for Chelsea, while Michael Essien may be rested in favour of Salomon Kalou following the Ghanaian’s midweek exploits.

Manchester City duo Nigel de Jong and Vincent Kompany are unavailable after sustaining knee and toe injuries respectively, but Shaun Wright-Phillips and Wayne Bridge are fit to face their former club.

Aston Villa v Tottenham (16:00)

Martin O’Neill is likely to give Emile Heskey the nod ahead of John Carew in his Villa side’s attack, with Zat Knight again partnering Curtis Davies in the heart of defence.

Tottenham captain Ledley King is set to lead his side out once more as he defies his ongoing knee problem, but the trip to Villa Park comes too early for Alan Hutton, who is still recovering from a foot injury.


West Ham v West Bromwich Albion (20:00)

West Ham are without Valon Behrami, who is out for up to six months with a cruciate knee ligament injury, and Carlton Cole who is suspended; Savio Nsereko may therefore get his chance to partner David Di Michele up front. Jack Collison is also out with a knee injury.

West Brom’s on-loan striker Jay Simpson is being evaluated by boss Tony Mowbray ahead of the clash at Upton Park, with Marc-Antoine Fortune and Luke Moore also challenging for a place in attack.

Dan Quarrell / Eurosport