Premier League – Team news: Fabregas to return

Cesc Fabregas is poised to return from injury as Arsenal entertain West Ham on Saturday, but William Gallas‘ fitness is an ongoing concern for manager Arsene Wenger.

All matches kick-off at 15:00 UK time unless otherwise stated.

Arsenal v West Ham (17:30)

Gunners captain Fabregas (pictured) has been out since March 6 – missing the matches with Porto and Hull – due to a hamstring injury but is expected to pass a fitness test.

Tomas Rosicky is also anticipated to be fit following a groin problem, but defender William Gallas has “an endless calf injury”, according to Wenger.

Gallas has missed the last six games and is set to be out for at least two more matches – missing the Hammers contest and the match at Birmingham on March 27.

West Ham duo Herita Ilunga (tendon) and Mark Noble (arm) returned to training this week and could be in line for a recall at Arsenal.

Fit-again Benni McCarthy and Guillermo Franco also hope to be involved.

Luis Boa Morte and Zavon Hines both remained sidelined with knee injuries, while Julien Faubert is still out with his hamstring strain.

Aston Villa v Wolves (12:45)

Aston Villa boss Martin O’Neill will check on the fitness of leading scorer Gabriel Agbonlahor before finalising his line-up for the clash with Wolves at Villa Park.

Agbonlahor, who has netted 14 goals this season, suffered a groin strain during latter stages of the midweek away Premier League victory over Wigan.

If he is ruled out, then Emile Heskey could return to the starting line-up alongside John Carew as Villa look to sustain their push for a Champions League spot. O’Neill has no other fresh injury worries.

Wolves welcome midfielder Dave Edwards and striker Chris Iwelumo back into their squad for the clash with Aston Villa at Villa Park.

Wales international Edwards has been sidelined since undergoing ankle surgery in December after he was injured against Tottenham but made his comeback for the reserves against Arsenal in midweek.

Scotland international Iwelumo is back after a loan spell at Bristol City that boosted his match fitness following foot problems this season.

Everton v Bolton

Everton manager David Moyes has no fresh injury concerns ahead of Saturday’s game against Bolton.

However, he must make at least one change among his substitutes following the expiry of Landon Donovan‘s loan.

Trio Marouane Fellaini, Leon Osman and Philippe Senderos remain sidelined for the Toffees.

Bolton manager Owen Coyle has Sam Ricketts available for the Premier League match against Everton.

The versatile Wales international sat out the victory over Wigan last weekend through suspension.

Mark Davies is also in contention after an ankle injury while Coyle is mulling over whether to include Gary Cahill following his speedy recovery from a blood clot.

Portsmouth v Hull City

Portsmouth will again check on the fitness of England goalkeeper David James (calf) ahead of the Premier League clash against Hull.

Kevin Prince-Boateng (ankle), Hassan Yebda (knee) and John Utaka (groin) also face fitness tests. Right-back Anthony Vanden Borre has resumed training as he recovers from a hamstring injury.

Manager Avram Grant will, however, assess the mood of the squad following the confirmation of a nine-point penalty for Portsmouth going into administration before deciding whether to make wholesale changes from the side which lost 4-1 at Liverpool.

Iain Dowie will make his first team selection as Hull City manager for the vital trip to Portsmouth.

George Boateng is suspended after being sent off in last weekend’s 2-1 defeat to Arsenal and Anthony Gardner (ankle) is still ruled out but Stephen Hunt may be available following a foot injury.

Kamil Zayatte is set to be sidelined after being carried off against Arsenal but Paul McShane could return after missing the game against the Gunners following a family bereavement.

Stoke v Tottenham

Ryan Shawcross is likely to go straight back into Stoke’s side for their Premier League clash with Tottenham at the Britannia Stadium.

The 22-year-old has missed the Potters’ last three games since being sent off for the tackle with broke Arsenal midfielder Aaron Ramsey‘s leg on February 27 and should replace Danny Collins, with Ricardo Fuller expected to be recalled in attack.

David Kitson could also get the nod ahead of Mama Sidibe, while Glenn Whelan is the Potters’ only fresh injury worry so Liam Lawrence stands by to return on the wing.

Tottenham’s Jermain Defoe has been ruled out for “several weeks” after the England striker tore his hamstring.

Defoe’s injury is yet another set back for both Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp and England boss Fabio Capello, with winger Aaron Lennon still sidelined with a groin strain.

The casualty list at White Hart Lane already includes Tom Huddlestone, David Bentley, Ledley King, Jonathan Woodgate and Lennon.

Sunderland v Birmingham City

Sunderland striker Kenwyne Jones will be given until the last minute to prove his fitness ahead of the Premier League clash with Birmingham.

The Trinidad and Tobago international, who limped off at half-time against Manchester City last Sunday, has a chance of being involved after scans revealed no lasting damage to his hip flexor.

Andy Reid and Lee Cattermole (both hamstring) could also make it back into the squad while the Black Cats will continue to monitor Boudewijn Zenden’s knee problem. Captain Lorik Cana will be missing again as he completes a two-match ban.

Birmingham right-back Stuart Parnaby has shaken off an ankle problem and is available for the Premier League clash with Sunderland at the Stadium Of Light.

Parnaby suffered the setback during the 2-0 win at Portsmouth 10 days ago and was ruled out of the home draw with Everton last weekend but is now back in training. He is likely to have to be content with a place on the substitutes’ bench given the consistent form of captain Stephen Carr.

Boss Alex McLeish has no fresh injury concerns as his side look to sustain their surprise push for a Europa League spot but on-loan Sunderland player Teemu Tainio is ineligible to face his parent club.

Wigan v Burnley

Wigan midfielder Charles N’Zogbia is doubtful for the Premier League match against Burnley at the DW Stadium.

N’Zogbia took a knock on his hip during the defeat by Aston Villa in midweek and is rated 50-50 by manager Roberto Martinez.

Captain Mario Melchiot is due to return to training after a thigh injury but is not expected to feature.

Scotland striker Steven Fletcher will return for Burnley at Wigan after missing three games with a broken hand.

Steven Caldwell (groin) and Chris McCann (knee) are unavailable as Burnley look to improve on a dismal record which shows they having taken just one point from 15 away matches this season.

Danny Fox is in the squad despite being taken to hospital after the Wolves match with a suspected broken rib.


Manchester United v Liverpool (13:30)

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson will have to decide whether to drop Dimitar Berbatov to the bench in favour of the 4-5-1 formation often employed by the champions in big matches as Liverpool visit Old Trafford.

Ryan Giggs has shaken off his arm injury and will be pushing for a recall, while both Park Ji-Sung and Nani will hope to keep their spots along with Antonio Valencia.

A midfield three of Michael Carrick, Darren Fletcher and Paul Scholes should stand, while captain Gary Neville is set to continue at right-back.

Liverpool midfielder Alberto Aquilani will be assessed before a decision is taken on whether he can rejoin the squad for Sunday’s Premier League trip to Manchester United.

The Italy international missed Thursday’s Europa League victory over Lille with a sickness bug but, even if he is passed fit, it is likely he will only get a place on the bench.

Fellow midfielder Maxi Rodriguez returns to the squad having been ineligible for Europe and only Martin Skrtel (foot) and Fabio Aurelio (thigh) are missing with injury.

Fulham v Manchester City

Fulham welcome back captain Danny Murphy and midfielder Jonathan Greening for the Premier League visit of Manchester City.

Both players were suspended for the famous Uefa Cup win over Juventus and Murphy could replace Dickson Etuhu, who picked up a knock in the shock Europa League victory.

Andy Johnson and John Pantsil (both knee) are out, David Elm is a doubt with illness while Clint Dempsey is pushing for a starting place after scoring the winner against Juve.

Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini will be without Wayne Bridge.

The full-back will be sidelined for a month after undergoing a hernia operation and Javier Garrido is favourite to replace him.

Emmanuel Adebayor is absent through suspension while Martin Petrov has a knee injury.

Blackburn v Chelsea (16:00)

Blackburn boss Sam Allardyce will be without Paul Robinson for around a month after the goalkeeper was substituted with a torn calf muscle in the defeat to Tottenham.

Jason Brown came on at White Hart Lane and could start against Chelsea, although Mark Bunn has been recalled from his loan spell with Sheffield United to provide an extra option.

Ryan Nelsen (knee) and Lars Jacobsen (hernia) are still sidelined, but David Dunn came through the encounter unscathed and should start again.

Chelsea’s third-choice goalkeeper Ross Turnbull is set to continue between the posts in the absence of injured number one Petr Cech and second-rated Hilario.

Michael Essien, Ashley Cole and Jose Bosingwa are also still sidelined, so boss Carlo Ancelotti is unlikely to tinker too much with the side beaten by Jose Mourinho’s Internazionale in midweek.

Joe Cole will be eyeing a starting berth in midfield as time runs out for him to impress England manager Fabio Capello ahead of the World Cup.

PA Sport

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