Chelsea counting on current form

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The Independent Online

Mark Hughes has been told to turn his back on confrontation when Chelsea travel to St James' Park to meet Newcastle in tonight's FA Cup replay.

However, Glenn Hoddle, the Chelsea manager, believes that Chelsea's current form, rather than the possible absence of Newcastle's Les Ferdinand, Robert Lee and Steve Howey, could turn the third-round replay the London club's way .

Ferdinand, like Lee, is struggling with Achilles tendon trouble and it could mean the striker misses his first match since moving north for pounds 6m. "We have known that Les has been down to London and seen a couple of specialists in the time Newcastle have been on the road, but you worry about your own situation," said Hoddle, who has appealed against the dismissal of Hughes at Everton on Saturday.

Dennis Wise and Hughes, who faces a five-match ban after being booked at Goodison and then sent off for an alleged stamp on David Unsworth, will both be banned for the fourth round at Queen's Park Rangers should Chelsea win.

Wise finally reached 21 points at Everton with his first caution since the end of October and Hoddle said: "To go that length of time nowadays and not be booked is a feat in itself. You don't have to be a genius to work out that referees are booking more people - and Mark's game is competitive. I wouldn't really want him to change that because the physical side of his play is not dirty.

"He uses his body extremely well to hold off defenders and he takes a hell of a lot of punishment during games. It's maybe a little fracas and a verbal situation that happens when you have these confrontations that he needs to detach himself from."

Everton, the FA Cup holders, face a tough replay at Stockport tonight, and manager Joe Royle has warned his team against complacency. The Second Division side came away from Merseyside with a 2-2 draw and Royle said: "They were terrific at Goodison. Stockport must feel somewhat aggrieved that they have to go to a replay. I hope they've got it in the back of their minds that we can't play that badly again.

"I've been at Edgeley Park on many nights on scouting missions, they'll be up for it and it's not an easy place to go to. It's no foregone conclusion, it's not an easy tie."

One bonus for Royle is that Duncan Ferguson could return to the side after suffering a hamstring injury.

Dave Jones, the Stockport manager, said: "People say we've had our chance, but if we play like we did at Goodison, who knows what might happen?

"As a player, I didn't enjoy playing in ties like these and I am sure the Everton lads will feel the same way. I know Joe used to relish the opportunity of taking on the bigger clubs when he was at Oldham, and we certainly can't wait to have another crack at them."

Third Division Hereford are confident of securing victory over Tottenham at White Hart Lane. Steve White, scorer of four goals in Saturday's 5- 2 win over Cambridge, said: "We are creating six or seven chances a match. There is no doubt we are still in with a shout."

Graham Turner, the Hereford manager, added: "We know we let them off the hook in the first game, but there is no reason why we can't win it."

Sheffield United will have their suspended players, Mark Patterson and David Tuttle, eligible for the game against Arsenal at Bramall Lane. With Steve Bould ruled out with a hamstring injury and Nigel Winterburn suspended, Bruce Rioch names the same Arsenal side on duty for Saturday's 3-2 win at Middlesbrough.

Stuart Pearce, the Nottingham Forest captain, is preparing his team-mates for another tough battle with Stoke. Pearce salvaged a replay for Forest with a late goal at the Victoria Ground after Simon Sturridge had put Stoke in front. Pearce said: "Anyone who thinks we've already done the hard work by getting a replay at our place is sadly mistaken. We've still got an awful lot to do to get through this tie."

Manchester City's left-back injury jinx has struck again. Rae Ingram pulled a muscle at Spurs on Saturday and is ruled out of the game against Leicester.

With emergency left-back Ian Brightwell completing a two-match ban, Alan Ball is left without cover in the position. The City manager said: "It's very important that we progress in the FA Cup and whoever comes into the position I'm sure will do a good job."

Birmingham, who face Wolves, are hoping their Dutch goalkeeper, Bart Griemink, recovers from an ankle injury. Barry Fry, the Birmingham manager, said: "Although I want Bart to play, he can barely stand at the moment. If he can't kick and spring about, it's not a lot of good."

The Watford midfield pair Derek Payne and Steve Palmer are both ruled out of the match against Wimbledon at Selhurst Park. Payne is starting a two-match suspension while Palmer has a groin injury.