Premier League – Team news: Drogba cleared
Brief team news ahead of this weekend’s Premier League action, with Chelsea striker Didier Drogba passed fit to face Tottenham.
Click on the links below the photo for predicted line-ups, players to watch and match facts.
(Kick-offs 15:00 UK time unless otherwise stated)
Everton will have to do without Joseph Yobo after he picked up a hamstring injury in training. Tim Cahill should return at Fratton Park, having been substituted at half-time last weekend in the victory over Stoke with a calf injury. Yakubu, Victor Anichebe, Mikel Arteta and James Vaughan are all definitely out with long term injuries.
Portsmouth will check on the fitness of Jermaine Pennant (calf) after he was forced off after just 35 minutes in last weekend’s 1-1 draw at Middlesbrough. Nadir Belhadji is on standby if the midfielder does not make it.
Blackburn Rovers v West Ham
Blackburn captain Ryan Nelsen (thigh) and fellow defender Gael Givet (knee) will both undergo fitness tests. Striker Roque Santa Cruz will miss a third successive match with a knee tendon issue and midfielder Vince Grella remains out with a groin injury. But Stephen Warnock (toe) has been cleared to play.
West Ham will make a late check on Mathew Upson (groin) but Valon Behrami (cruciate ligament), Jack Collison (kneecap), Dean Ashton (ankle) and Danny Gabbidon (stomach) are all definitely out. Carlton Cole also misses out through suspension.
Clint Dempsey is a doubt for Fulham after the American winger suffered a bout of food poisoning. Other than that Fulham are relatively untroubled by injury, with only centre-half Aaron Hughes ruled out with a rib problem.
Stoke City v Middlesbrough
Stoke boss Tony Pulis is hopeful Ricardo Fuller (dislocated shoulder) and Matthew Etherington will be fit to play from the start but otherwise has no new injury concerns ahead of the visit of Middlesbrough.
Boro will be missing Mathew Bates (suspension) while skipper Emanuel Pogatetz will undergo a late fitness test on a knee injury. Jeremie Aliadiere is also a doubt with an unspecified knock. Gary O’Neil and Justin Hoyte (both groin) are back in training, but Didier Digard (knee and thigh) and Chris Riggott (knee) remain on the sidelines.
Tottenham Hotspur v Chelsea
Tottenham boss Harry Redknapp has a near-full squad to choose from, with just Jermain Defoe and Alan Hutton (both foot) sidelined. And that means Redknapp could name the same team that beat Aston Villa last weekend.
Chelsea are without Joe Cole (knee), Deco (hamstring) and Paulo Ferreira (cruciate ligament) but Drobga (pictured) has shaken off a knee injury and is set to continue up front for Guus Hiddink’s side.
West Bromwich v Bolton Wanderers
Bolton will be without Mark Davies (knee) while boss Gary Megson’s only other concern is over Joey O’Brien, who continues to struggle with his own long-term knee complaint.
Newcastle welcome back Kevin Nolan from suspension and Habib Beye from an ankle injury but Danny Guthrie (hamstring) is not yet ready to return. Mark Viduka and Ignacio Gonzalez (both Achilles) and Xisco (fractured toe) remain on the sidelines.
Arsenal will be missing Theo Walcott who sustained a knee injury in training but should have goalkeeper Almunia available following an ankle knock. Mikael Silvestre could also come into contention after some 10 weeks out with a calf injury. Captain Cesc Fabregas (knee) and striker Eduardo (groin) are both back in training but are not expected to feature until after the international break. Emmanuel Adebayor (hamstring) and Tomas Rosicky (hamstring tendon) continue their rehabilitation.
Hull captain Ian Ashbee misses out with a hamstring injury Kevin Kilbane – who could also slot in at left-back – and Dean Marney rteturn. Centre-backs Michael Turner and Anthony Gardner were both forced to sit out training on Friday and are rated 50/50, while midfielders Jimmy Bullard and George Boateng (both knee) are long-term absentees
City pair Stephen Ireland (ankle) and Wayne Bridge (hamstring) both suffered injuries during Thursday night’s dramatic UEFA Cup win over Aalborg and are doubtful. Vincent Kompany, who made his comeback from a toe injury in Denmark after passing a late fitness test, will also be assessed. But striker Craig Bellamy could be in contention after making a quicker than expected recovery from a knee injury.
Sunderland boss Ricky Sbragia could welcome back defenders Anton Ferdinand and Nyron Nosworthy (both hamstring) while Tal Ben Haim misses out under the terms of his loan agreement with City. Midfielder Teemu Tainio is to see a specialist again over his knee problem after an injection failed to solve the problem, while Kieran Richardson completes a two-match ban.
Liverpool v Aston Villa (16:00)
Liverpool will welcome back Alvaro Arbeloa (hamstring) while Xabi Alonso (ankle) and Yossi Benayoun (hamstring) have been in light training and could feature at some stage. Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres are both expected to start as the Reds look to continue their resurgence.
John Carew is pushing hard for a return to the Aston Villa starting line-up against Liverpool after convincing manager Martin O’Neill he is back to full fitness following a back problem. Wilfred Bouma is also pushing for a place after eight months out with a dislocated ankle and Steve Sidwell (ankle) could also come into the equation.
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