Football: Weekend guide to the FA Cup

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Notts County v Sheff Utd

W: 1894 Cup best W: 1899, 1902, 15, 25

Apps: 4 Wins: 1 3rd rnd form (last 5 years) Apps: 5 Wins: 2

NOTTS COUNTY will be without the injured trio of Sean Farrell, Mark Robson and Duane Darby, while loan players Paul Bolland and Kim Grant are ineligible. Tony Garcia has a chance of recovering from a back problem and Craig Dudley has been recalled from a loan spell at Hull. County have lost four of their last five matches and a good cup run would be much appreciated by a side low on morale. Whether that will be possible against opposition from a higher level is debatable.

Sheffield United are without suspended midfielders Shaun Derry and Paul Devlin. Defender Roger Nilsen is doubtful with a calf injury and on-loan Middlesbrough striker Andy Campbell is ineligible. Bobby Ford returned for the reserves in midweek after flu and is in contention to return, but goalkeeper Simon Tracey (flu) is still out. The Blades have lost three of their last five games.

Winners will be at home to Cardiff in the fourth round.


Aston Villa v Fulham

W: 1887, 95, 97, 1905, 13, 20 57 Cup best Final: 1975

Apps: 4 Wins: 3 4th rnd form (last 5 years) Apps: 0

ASTON VILLA'S striker Stan Collymore is on stand-by for a recall to the side. The England international, on the bench for six of Villa's last eight games, is poised to step into the side if Dion Dublin is ruled out with a groin strain. Paul Merson is also keen to step back into the starting line-up after his goalscoring return from an eight-match absence with a back injury as a substitute against Everton on Monday. The possible change in attack is likely to be the only switch that Villa will make as they attempt to keep alive their hopes of an FA Cup and Premiership double.

The Fulham defender Simon Morgan has recovered from a calf injury that kept him out for three weeks and is in contention for a place in the starting line-up. Ian Selley is back in full training after a long spell out with a broken leg but striker Paul Moody is expected to be on the sidelines for a further three weeks. The Cottagers have not progressed this far in the FA Cup since 1983, and although rank outsiders, will be buoyed by victory over Southampton in the third round.

Barnsley v Bournemouth

W: 1912 Cup best 6th rnd: 1957

Apps: 3 Wins: 1 4th rnd form (last 5 years) Apps: 0

BARNSLEY HAVE defender Scott Jones out through suspension and striker Don Goodman struggling to overcome a hamstring injury. Player- manager John Hendrie could include himself in the starting line-up.

The Bournemouth midfielder John Bailey, who broke a finger in last weekend's 2-0 win against Notts County, is likely to play wearing a protective cast. Former Chelsea striker Mark Stein, scorer of 21 goals this season, lines up alongside Steve Fletcher but former Manchester United midfielder Russell Beardsmore is ruled out with a long-term back problem. Bournemouth's manager, Mel Machin, heads back to Barnsley fully believing his side can pull off another FA Cup shock. They disposed of West Brom in the third round and a trip to Oakwell holds no fears for Machin, who managed the Tykes from 1989 to 1993. Barnsley knocked the south coast club out of the Worthington Cup in October, but Machin said: "We know a little bit more about them now. Ashley Ward was outstanding against us when they beat us 2-1 earlier in the season but he's gone now."

Blackburn v Sunderland

W: 1884-86, 90-91, 1928 Cup best W: 1937, 73

Apps: 3 Wins: 1 4th rnd form (last 5 years) Apps: 3 Wins: 0

KEVIN GALLACHER failed a fitness yesterday, leaving Blackburn manager Brian Kidd with two recognised strikers. Chris Sutton remains a long-term absentee, Kevin Davies faces a tonsil operation, and new recruit Matt Jansen is cup-tied, so Ashley Ward and Nathan Blake look certain to continue up front. Captain Tim Sherwood starts a two-match suspension, and his place could go to Blackburn-born David Dunn, a young England player. The England keeper Tim Flowers is back after two months on the sidelines but he is unlikely to dislodge Australian John Filan.

Sunderland, riding high at the top of the First Division, will hand late fitness tests to Michael Bridges and Nicky Summerbee. Bridges picked up a knock in the reserves' midweek win over Birmingham and Summerbee made his comeback from an ankle injury in the same game. The two sides have met on four previous occasions in the Cup, with Rovers winning every time. The last Cup meeting was in 1960, when Rovers took Sunderland to a replay in the third round and then ran out 4-1 winners.

Bristol Rovers v Leyton Orient

6th rnd: 1951, 58 Cup best Semi-final: 1978

Apps: 0 4th rnd form (last 5 years) Apps: 0

BRISTOL ROVERS will be without their new signing Andy Thompson, who is cup-tied, and Mark McKeever, who is ineligible. Stephane Leoni is ruled out by a one-match ban, opening the door for youngsters Mike Trought and Mark Smith. Defender Dave Pritchard is also available after long-term injury and midfielder Michael Meaker returns after missing the Reading match through suspension.

Orient have a doubt about defender Stuart Hicks, who has a back problem, and rate his chances of being fit at 50-50. Striker Tony Richards is suspended and fellow striker Carl Griffiths is on loan at Wrexham. The two sides have met three times in the Cup, with Rovers going through on two occasions and Orient once. The last time the teams met in the Cup was four years ago, when Rovers won away 2-0 in the second round. Rovers' player manager Ian Holloway is confident of getting a result this afternoon. "We fancy our chances with the benefit of a home draw," he said. Orient's midfielder Matt Lockwood said: "We knocked them out of the Worthington Cup and it would be fantastic if we could make it a double."

Everton v Ipswich

W: 1906, 33, 66, 84, 95 Cup best W: 1978

Apps: 3 Wins: 1 4th rnd form (last 5 years) Apps: 3 Wins: 3

DAVE WATSON has been added to Everton's list of injuries, suspensions and international calls as they prepare for this contest against one of the First Division's leading sides. Veteran defender Watson is struggling to recover from a back injury picked up in the 3-0 defeat at Aston Villa on Monday. Manager Walter Smith is already without injured defenders Richard Dunne, Slaven Bilic and Craig Short. Midfielder Olivier Dacourt is out through his third suspension of the season while striker Ibrahima Bakayoko is on international duty with the Ivory Coast. John Collins is also on the long-term injured list, but David Unsworth is back after suspension and Everton are searching for a new-look striking partnership involving youngsters Michael Branch and Danny Cadamarteri.

Ipswich will be boosted by the return of Mick Stockwell, who has missed the last 13 games following an ankle operation, while Tony Mowbray and Bobby Petta return from one-match bans. Ipswich have met Everton four times previously in the Cup and have lost every time, the last occasion being 1985 when the Merseysiders won 1-0 in a sixth-round replay.

Leicester v Coventry

Final: 1949, 61, 63, 69 Cup best W: 1987

Apps: 3 Wins: 2 4th rnd form (last 5 years) Apps: 4 Wins: 2

LEICESTER'S TOP scorer, Emile Heskey, has shaken off the flu and is likely to return. The 21-year-old striker missed last week's 6-2 home defeat against Manchester United but has returned to full training and is expected to play. Defenders Matt Elliott and Frank Sinclair return from suspension and winger Andy Impey has shaken off a calf strain. Leicester have appeared in four FA Cup finals but have yet to win the trophy. Their visitors have won the Cup once, beating Tottenham 3-2 in the 1987 final. The two sides have met once before in the competition, in 1952, when a third round match was drawn 1-1 at Leicester before the Sky Blues won the replay 4-1 at Highfield Road.

Noel Whelan rejoins Coventry's squad after a one-match ban. Australian striker John Aloisi, left out for the 2-1 defeat at Chelsea last weekend, could also return. Manager Gordon Strachan is keeping his line-up under secret, but if Whelan and Aloisi play, then Paul Telfer and Trond Soltvedt are most likely to give way Coventry's form has improved of late, and before last week's narrow loss, they had trounced Nottingham Forest 4- 0 in the League and beaten Macclesfield 7-0 in the Cup.

Newcastle Utd v Bradford City

W: 1910, 24, 32, 51-2, 55 Cup best W: 1889, 1938

Apps: 4 Wins: 2 4th rnd form (last 5 years) Apps: 1 Wins: 1

STEVE HOWEY (flu) is a doubt for Newcastle while captain Rob Lee is definitely out with an Achilles injury. But goalkeeper Shay Given and German midfielder Dietmar Hamann are available after suspension. Swedish striker Andreas Andersson is also back in the squad after missing out at Charlton last week through illness. Ruud Gullit's supposed dream strike pairing of Alan Shearer and Duncan Ferguson has yet to pay any significant dividend and unless they come could soon, Gullit may be having nightmares.

Bradford, currently second in the First Division, face the club they beat when they won the Cup for the only time in their history in 1911. The two sides have met on two other occasions in the FA Cup, the last time being in 1963 when the Yorkshire side won 6-1 in the third-round meeting. Bradford have won eight and drawn one of their last nine matches and on current form look capable of taking Newcastle back to Valley Parade for a replay. The Bradford manager, Paul Jewell, is giving nothing away about his team selection for the trip to St James' Park. He is taking a squad of 18 to the North-east but will not reveal his starting line- up until an hour before kick-off.

Portsmouth v Leeds Utd

W: 1939 Cup best W: 1972

Apps: 2 Wins: 1 4th rnd form (last 5 years) Apps: 5 Wins: 4

ALAN KNIGHT, who has made a club record 668 League appearances for Portsmouth, is poised to return in place of on-loan Charlton goalkeeper Andy Petterson, who is cup-tied. Republic of Ireland midfielder Alan McLoughlin is hopeful of recovering from a calf strain which has sidelined him for the past two weeks. Pompey are facing huge financial problems but Alan Ball's side have rallied on the pitch in recent games and have lost just two of their last five Nationwide League games. Beating Premiership Nottingham Forest in the last round will have boosted confidence.

The Leeds manager, David O'Leary, is without the services of four key players. Lucas Radebe is on international duty with South Africa, while young striker Alan Smith and midfielders Lee Bowyer and Alfie Haaland all face one-match suspensions. Jonathon Woodgate returns from his ban to replace Radebe at the heart of the defence, with Harry Kewell likely to be given an out-and-out striking role alongside Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink. Bruno Ribeiro may replace Bowyer while winger Willem Korsten, on-loan until the end of the season, could be handed his full debut.

Sheff Wed v Stockport

W: 1896, 1907, 35 Cup best 5th rnd: 1935, 50

Apps: 4 Wins: 1 4th rnd form (last 5 years) Apps: 3 Wins: 0

SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY manager Danny Wilson faces pleasant selection dilemmas with striker Andy Booth on the brink of a return having missed the last three matches with an ankle injury, although in his absence Ritchie Humphreys has scored three goals. Defender Dejan Stefanovic, meanwhile, is available after a one-match suspension and could depose midfielder Danny Sonner from the starting line-up if Wilson opts for a change of formation.

Stockport will give a late fitness test to leading scorer Brett Angell, who has a hamstring injury. Paul Cook, Kevin Cooper and Wayne Phillips are in the frame after coming through a practice match. Stockport's manager, the former Owl, Gary Megson, made 223 League appearances and scored 25 goals during two three-year spells in midfield at Hillsborough. "The likelihood is that Wednesday will go through, but we will go up there and give it our best shot," he said, adding he has no plans to man-mark Benito Carbone. "If they were a one-man team then it could be worth doing, but they have quality all over the field," said Megson. "Petter Rudi, Niclas Alexandersson, Wim Jonk, Andy Hinchcliffe and Des Walker are all exceptional talents."

Swansea v Derby County

Semi-final: 1926, 64 Cup best W: 1946

Apps: 1 Wins:0 4th rnd form (last 5 years) Apps: 2 Wins: 1

SWANSEA'S MANAGER, John Hollins, will delay naming his side until shortly before kick-off. He is hoping midfielder Richard Appleby will recover from an ankle injury but is likely to have to settle for a place on the bench. Martin Thomas is sidelined by a knee injury and Damien Lacey takes his place. Kristian O'Leary will replace suspended centre back Jason Smith. "I always believe that if you go in for a competition you must believe you can win it," said Hollins. "We joined in at the first round and are still here at the fourth. The more you win the closer you get and we have a belief we can get to the next round. We are in a dream at the moment because we are playing against a Premiership club and the experience is fantastic."

Derby will make a late decision on captain Igor Stimac before naming a side for the fixture at Vetch Field. An ankle injury has kept Stimac out for nearly three months but the Croatian defender has proved his fitness in the reserves and is close to a return. Danish defender Jacob Laursen has recovered from flu but Italian playmaker Stefano Eranio is doubtful with a hamstring problem.

Wimbledon v Tottenham

W: 1988 Cup best W: 1901, 21, 61-62, 67, 81-82, 91

Apps: 5 Wins: 5 4th rnd form (last 5 years) Apps: 4 Wins: 2

JOE KINNEAR welcomes back Jason Euell from suspension and will throw him in straight into the team to face Tottenham. The Dons are without cup-tied record signing John Hartson and Nigerian forward Efan Ekoku, who is on international duty.

Darren Anderton and Les Ferdinand are likely to return for Tottenham in the second of four meetings in a month between the two sides. Anderton missed last Saturday's goalless Premiership draw with the Dons at White Hart Lane with a recurrence of a calf-muscle strain while Ferdinand was out with knee trouble but both have been back in full training. Teenaged centre-back Luke Young is also available again after recovering from flu but midfielders Allan Nielsen and Stephen Clemence are out through suspensions and John Scales is still on the injured list. Swiss international Ramon Vega, missing for nine games with a knee injury until he made a brief substitute appearance last Saturday, is another option at centre back for manager George Graham. But he is likely to stick with Scottish defender Colin Calderwood, who played last week despite a back injury which has eased.

Wrexham v Huddersfield

6th rnd: 1974, 78 Cup best W: 1922

Apps: 2 Wins: 1 4th rnd form (last 5 years) Apps: 2 Wins: 1

THE HUDDERSFIELD manager, Peter Jackson, insists his side will be able to succeed where League champions have failed in the past - by surviving an FA Cup trip to Wrexham. In 1992, the old First Division title- holders Arsenal were knocked out of the competition by Brian Flynn's men at the Racecourse Ground. They have since beaten Premier League clubs Ipswich and West Ham, and took Wimbledon to a replay last season. "We have been reminded all week of Wrexham's pedigree as giantkillers," Jackson said. "I'm sure my players know what's expected of them." Barry Horne is out with ligament damage but Sean Hessey and Tom Cowan could return. Ben Thornley will not be considered despite recovering from a fractured bone in his foot.

For Wrexham, Gareth Owen may figure even though he dislocated his shoulder in midweek, while Karl Connolly and Phil Hardy should be fit to return and Ian Rush, the FA Cup's leading goalscorer, could also play.


Man Utd v Liverpool (12 noon)

W: 1909, 48, 63, 77, 83, 90, 94, 96 Cup best W: 1965, 74, 86, 89, 92

Apps: 5 Wins: 4 4th rnd form (last 5 years) Apps: 3 Wins: 2

GARY NEVILLE, out since the end of December through suspension and injury, is fit again and the Manchester United manager, Alex Ferguson, could draft him at the expense of Wes Brown at full-back or Henning Berg at centre-back. United have not lost to Liverpool in the FA Cup in eight meetings since 1921 and are in such devastating form they could easily extend that record. But while they beat Leicester 6-2 last week Liverpool went one better with a 7-1 win over Southampton. With Liverpool's Robbie Fowler and United's Andy Cole in blistering form up front, it should be a game to savour at Old Trafford.

United have won three and drawn one of their last three League games. Tomorrow's opponents have rallied recently to win four from their last five and secure a draw in the other. Steve Staunton is a doubt for Liverpool because of a groin strain and Steve Harkness is on standby. Phil Babb and Karlheinz Riedle are suspended but Dominic Matteo is set to play only his second game of the season and Steve McManaman has a chance of recovering from an Achilles problem.

Wolves v Arsenal (3.30 PM)

W: 1893, 1908, 49, 60 Cup best W: 1930, 36, 50, 71, 79, 93, 98

Apps: 4 Wins: 3 4th rnd form (last 5 years) Apps: 3 Wins: 1

ARSENAL, WHO beat Wolves 1-0 in last season's semi-final, will be without first-choice goalkeeper David Seaman and suspended players Martin Keown and midfielder Patrick Vieira. Injuries rule out central defender Steve Bould, French utility player Gilles Grimandi and Portuguese striker Luis Boa Morte, who scored a vital equaliser in Arsenal's 4-2 win at Preston in the last round. But despite these setbacks, the Gunners, unbeaten in their last six matches and currently fourth in the Premiership will still hope to get past Wolves - even if the tie is eventually settled at Highbury after a replay.

Wolves, one of the great sides of English cup football in years gone by, are 11th in the First Division. They last won the Cup in 1960 and these days are probably pinning their hopes on their highly-rated teenaged forward Robbie Keane. Just 18 and only in the first team for 10 months, Keane has been rated as "priceless" by caretaker-manager Colin Lee and scored both goals in the third-round win against Bolton. A host of Premiership clubs, including tomorrow's opponents, are said to be chasing him, but Wolves are unlikely to let him go easily.


Oxford v Chelsea

4th rnd: 1964, 82 Cup best W: 1970, 97

Apps: 2 Wins: 1 4th rnd form (last 5 years) Apps: 4 Wins: 2

ALTHOUGH THESE teams have won one game apiece from their two previous encounters in the FA Cup, there is not much in recent years to suggest that Oxford are likely to win this tie. Languishing close to the foot of the First Division, they have lost three and drawn two of their last five Nationwide League matches. Financial problems at the club - some estimates put the debts at pounds 13m - have only made problems worse. A good cup run would be a good way to kick-start a revival of sorts, but on current form that appears unlikely.

Chelsea, unbeaten in 21 Premiership matches since the first day of the season and increasingly looking like title contenders, have more world- class internationals in their reserves than are likely to be gracing Oxford's first team in the next few years. The last FA Cup meeting between the two sides was a 2-1 Chelsea win in 1994. Oxford's glimmer of hope is the memory of having beaten a top flight Blues side 3-1 in 1991 when they were in the old Second Division.