Premier League – Team news: Rio ready for action

Rio Ferdinand could make his first Premier League appearance of the season for Manchester United, while Arsenal‘s Cesc Fabregas is also back from injury.

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SATURDAY (15:00 UK time unless stated)

Blackburn v Wolves

Blackburn skipper Ryan Nelsen hopes to return from his persistent knee injury – his selection would see Gael Givet move to left-back and Pascal Chimbonda to the right with Lars Jacobsen dropping out. Brett Emerton is also being eased back into action but Franco di Santo (hamstring) is still missing.

Wolves are without captain Jody Craddock (hamstring), with Christophe Berra likely to come into the centre of defence. Stefan Maierhofer and Segundo Castillo could make their debut, but the Ecuadorean Castillo played 90 minutes of World Cup action late on Wednesday night.

Liverpool v Burnley

Rafa Benitez has a dilemma in midfield, where central pair Javier Mascherano and Lucas Leiva have just returned from international duty in South America. Mascherano played 90 minutes for Argentina in the early hours of Thursday and could be rested, meaning Damien Plessis comes in. Fabio Aurelio should return to the bench.

David Nugent is in line for a Burnley debut on the right wing following his switch from Portsmouth. Club captain Steven Caldwell (groin) is in full training but still doubtful, but Mike Duff has recovered fully from a sprained ankle.

Manchester City v Arsenal

Striker Carlos Tevez (knee) is out after picking up an injury on international duty, while Roque Santa Cruz is a long-term absentee. Craig Bellamy will deputise up front. Robinho sustained an ankle injury playing for Brazil but should be fit to start. If not, Martin Petrov will come in on the left wing.

Arsenal are without the inspirational Andrei Arshavin, who aggravated a knee injury playing for Russia. Better news is that Cesc Fabregas returns from a hamstring strain and Tomas Rosicky is back in contention after playing for the Czech Republic on Wednesday. Theo Walcott (back) is also an option.

Portsmouth v Bolton Wanderers

Pompey could feature a host of new faces following their deadline-day splurge in the transfer market. The likes of Tal Ben Haim, Jamie O’Hara and Hassan Yebda are among the players hoping to debut. Aruna Dindane (knee), Papa Bouba Diop (hamstring) and Steve Finnan (hamstring) miss out.

On-loan striker Ivan Klasnic is set to play some part for Bolton following his deadline-day arrival. Johan Elmander and Gavin McCann are both struggling for fitness. Mark Davies is fit to start but Sean Davis is suspended. Ricardo Gardner (hamstring) is still missing.

Stoke v Chelsea

Stoke manager Tony Pulis could be tempted to throw his new signing from Sunderland, Danny Collins, straight into his starting XI, but Diego Arismendi, also signed on deadline day from Nacional, may have to wait to make his debut.

Chelsea are likely to be unchanged as they seek a fifth straight win, already making their best start to a season since 2005 when they won their first nine. Fitness tests will be undertaken for Alex (groin), Yuri Zhirkov (knee) and Paulo Ferreira (knee), while the match will most likely come too soon for Joe Cole as the midfielder recovers from a knee injury.

Sunderland v Hull

Michael Turner looks set to make his Sunderland debut against the side he left last month. Black Cats boss Steve Bruce has a dilemma in goal with Marton Fulop (heel) and Craig Gordon (thigh) both doubtful, and Trevor Carson ready to make his debut.

Hull manager Phil Brown looks set to replace Turner with Ibrahima Sonko at the heart of the Tigers’ defence, while also giving a debut to Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink in attack following his release from Celtic.

Wigan v West Ham

Wigan could welcome back midfielder Olivier Kapo after the Frenchman missed the start of the season with a knee injury. Wigan have lost their last four matches, including a 4-1 Carling Cup defeat at Blackpool, with Roberto Martinez considering a shake-up of his side.

West Ham will be without left-back Herita Ilunga (cheekbone), Dean Ashton (ankle/foot), Luis Boa Morte (knee) and Valon Behrami (knee). Gianfranco Zola could opt for Danny Gabbidon or hand a debut to Manuel Da Costa after James Collins departed to Aston Villa. New striker Alessandro Diamanti could feature.

Tottenham v Manchester United (17:30)

Harry Redknapp’s side will have to do without midfield maestro Luka Modric, with fellow Croat Niko Kranjcar in line to make his debut. Meanwhile, Peter Crouch may be rewarded for his goal against Birmingham with a start ahead of captain Robbie Keane. Heurelho Gomes is missing but Ledley King (groin) should play.

Sir Alex Ferguson says Rio Ferdinand “has a chance” of returning, while John O’Shea is expected to miss out with a calf injury. Ferguson confirmed defenders Gary Neville, Fabio and Wes Brown are all available. Antonio Valencia played for Ecuador in midweek so is unlikely to start.


Birmingham City v Aston Villa (12:00)

Birmingham have been ravaged by injuries, with Marcus Bent (hamstring), Cameron Jerome (ankle), Liam Ridgewell (knee) and Martin Taylor (ankle) all out, and Teemu Tainio (calf) and Gregory Vignal (hip) doubtful. Christian Benitez and Giovanny Espinoza both played late on Wednesday night for Ecuador.

Richard Dunne should come straight into the centre of defence as Curtis Davies is out with a shoulder injury. Stephen Warnock could make his debut at left-back, while fellow new signing James Collins is also available in a revamped backline. Emile Heskey is doubtful with a hamstring tweak.

Fulham v Everton (16:15)

Fulham skipper Danny Murphy is doubtful with a knee ligament injury but has had the two-week international break to recover. Bobby Zamora is also expected to feature, but his strike partner Andy Johnson is still out. Clint Dempsey could be rested after his midweek exertions for the USA.

Deadline-day signing John Heitinga is expected to make his Everton debut, with the versatile Dutchman able to play anywhere across the back four. Tim Howard was also involved for the USA on Wednesday but should play. Russian winger Diniyar Bilyaletdinov is also in contention.


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