Football: Team sheet: Ins and outs of the weekend's third-round ties in the FA Cup

Click to follow
Chelsea v Manchester United

Against anybody else United would be firm favourites but Ruud Gullit's team, the FA Cup holders, have a habit of doing well against them (the 1994 final apart). Chelsea will miss Dennis Wise and Frank Sinclair (suspended) but Franck Leboeuf returns after flu. United welcome back Denis Irwin after two months out with a knee ligament injury and Peter Schmeichel could play, so long as his back injury is not aggravated on the coach trip to London. Kevin Pilkington stands by.

Player to watch: Schmeichel (if fit), Pilkington (if he's not).

Prediction: Chelsea, narrowly and excitingly.

Everton v Newcastle United

Despite their precarious League position, Everton have lost just one of their last five games. Carl Tiler's performances since signing from Sheffield United have stiffened a defence that will be without Dave Watson, Craig Short (both injured) and Slaven Bilic (suspended). Captain Gary Speed is also missing. Newcastle, in need of a Cup run, will be without David Batty, Philippe Albert (both suspended), Warren Barton (hamstring) and Steve Howey (leg).

Player to watch: Duncan Ferguson, head master in form.

Prediction: Draw, possibly high-scoring.

Hereford United v Tranmere Rovers

Radford and George (not the Highbury variety) were the talk of the nation 25 years ago when Hereford enjoyed their finest hour, but to make the fourth round this time the Conference side will have to overcome the absence of striker Richard Leadbeater (Cup-tied) and goalkeeper Andy Quy. Tranmere's new captain, David Kelly, faces a late fitness test on an injured knee while the evergreen player-manager John Aldridge looks likely to be on bench duty.

Player to watch: Tony Agana - ex-Blade, next George?

Prediction: Tranmere (but Newcastle '72 were confident too).

Wimbledon v Wrexham

London sides have good reason to be wary of the Second Division team. Last year Wrexham beat West Ham en route to the last eight and six years ago Arsenal were their victims. The captain Tony Humes is out and Peter Ward faces a late test. Injury-hit Wimbledon, lacking strike power recently, are down to their last two fit front men, Carl Cort and Andy Clarke. The midfielder Marcus Gayle (hamstring) is doubtful but at least the defender Chris Perry is back.

Player to watch: Cort - teenager to make his mark?

Prediction: Wimbledon, but it will be a struggle.

Tottenham Hotspur v Fulham

Apparently Tottenham have an injury crisis - alas there is not enough space here to list all the casualties but David Ginola (hamstring) and Andy Sinton (knee) are expected to recover in time. The youngsters Paul Mahorn, Danny Hill, Neale Fenn and Jamie Clapham are vying for a place in the starting line-up. Fulham field a former Spur in the midfielder Neil Smith - survivor of the Keegan/Wilkins revolution - but have doubts over the striker Rob Scott (thigh).

Player to watch: Jurgen Klinsmann, a class apart.

Prediction: Tottenham - eventually.