Football: Weekend guide to the Premiership

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MATCH OF THE DAY

Newcastle v Wimbledon

WHILE ALL eyes at St James's Park this afternoon will be on Newcastle's new signing Duncan Ferguson (left), and all the talk will be of precisely what his signing means for Alan Shearer - dream striking partner or reason to leave? - Wimbledon will be attempting to build on last week's win 1- 0 over Arsenal that took them to eighth in the table.

The Wimbledon manager, Joe Kinnear, thinks Ferguson's arrival in the North-east will certainly improve the Magpies' confidence, but he is more concerned by an established Geordie threat than the recently imported Scot. "Newcastle needed a really big lift after their 1-0 defeat by Everton last Monday and making a big signing like that should have done the trick," Kinnear said.

"Ferguson is a very good player but I'm more concerned about Alan Shearer most of all. We have to face them both," he added, taking the opportunity to state for the umpteenth time that, although his resources are scant, his men are full of battling qualities.

"This is always the way when we play the bigger clubs. They always have two or three new faces which come up against us that weren't there before. But we've coped in the past. If you look at the Newcastle forward line, there was pounds 8m for Ferguson, pounds 15m for Alan Shearer, pounds 5m for Gary Speed and pounds 2m for Keith Gillespie. That's pounds 30m for four players up front. But it's not money that wins you matches - players win you matches. And any game you win puts you in good spirits.

"It's especially nice to beat the Double winners and overall it was a smashing day. I think we got the game plan right and the lads were committed, so it was the result we deserved. But if you consider where we are when we're playing against the calibre of opposition we are, we're doing marvellous."

The Dons' winger, Michael Hughes, will miss the game because of the mandatory one-match ban for the five bookings he has picked up this season. Ceri Hughes and John Goodman played a reserve game in midweek, but will not be in contention for another month. Leading scorers Efan Ekoku (seven goals), Marcus Gayle (six), Jason Euell (four) and Robbie Earle (right, three) are all in today's squad and ready to show the Dons have big men of their own to call upon.

Shearer is struggling with his hamstring injury but is in Newcastle's squad and could play alongside Ferguson. Teenage defender Aaron Hughes has recovered from a calf injury but Andy Griffin is out with a groin problem. Nikos Dabizas and Stuart Pearce are suspended.

NEWCASTLE UNITED (from): Given, Harper, Barton, Serrant, Charvet, Dabizas, Hughes, Albert, Lee, Speed, Gillespie, Solano, Hamann, Glass, Shearer, Ferguson, Dalglish, Andersson, Ketsbaia, Georgiadis.

WIMBLEDON (from): Sullivan, Cunningham, Kimble, Blackwell, Thatcher, Hughes, Earle, Ekoku, Roberts, Gayle, Ardley, Heald, Goodman, Leaburn, Ardley, Heald, Goodman, Leaburn, Hughes, Ainsworth, Kennedy, Euell, Castledine, Cort.

Suspensions: Newcastle: Dabizas, Pearce. Wimbledon: M Hughes.

Referee: U Rennie.

Charlton v

Everton

Last season: No fixture

CHARLTON WILL be without suspended Welsh international John Robinson for the Premiership match with Everton at The Valley today, as manager Alan Curbishley looks for his side to respond to the 4-1 drubbing at Leeds last week.

But although one midfielder is denied him, Curbishley has the welcome return of another, Shaun Newton, back after a lengthy knee ligament injury. Newton scored for the reserves in midweek but is likely to have to settle for a place on the bench.

Danny Cadamarteri continues as Ibrahima Bakayoko's new strike partner for visitors Everton, following the controversial departure of Duncan Ferguson to Newcastle last week.

It will be interesting to see Everton's new "style" now they can no longer lump the ball forward in the general direction of Big Dunc's forehead. Still, they did beat Newcastle on Monday in an effective - if not pretty - performance, and the return from suspension of Italian defender Marco Materazzi will provide a further boost. John Collins has recovered from a foot problem.

CHARLTON ATHLETIC (from): Ilic, Petterson, Mills, Powell, Tiler, Redfearn, Youds, Rufus, Kinsella, Newton, Hunt, Mendonca, Mortimer, Brown, S Jones, K Jones, Lisbie, Bright, Parker, Barness, Royce.

EVERTON (from): Myhre, Ball, Watson, Unsworth, Short, Materazzi, Collins, Hutchison, Grant, Dunne, Bakayoko, Cadamarteri, Milligan, Jeffers, Cleland, Simonsen, Oster.

Suspensions: Charlton: Robinson. Everton: None.

Referee: K Burge.

Chelsea v

Sheff Wed

Last season: 1-0

HAVING BEATEN Manchester United last week, the Sheffield Wednesday manager, Danny Wilson, looks certain to name an unchanged starting line- up for the trip to play Chelsea today. Fixture lists can be cruel, though, and no matter how much confidence the Owls took from a home win against a side that, perhaps, had one eye on the midweek Champions' League game at Barcelona, Stamford Bridge and an in-form Chelsea will be a very different proposition.

Wilson has virtually a full squad at his disposal, albeit without the suspended Paolo Di Canio and long-term injured Ian Nolan and Earl Barrett, but some squads are fuller than others.

Even with Dennis Wise suspended and Pierluigi Casiraghi probably out for most of the season with a knee injury, player-coach Gianluca Vialli is still spoilt for choice. He could even keep faith with the side that won 4-2 at Leicester last weekend, although Dan Petrescu may return for Bjarne Goldbaek, and Michael Duberry will also be pushing for a recall.

CHELSEA (from): De Goey, Hitchcock, Kharine, Le Saux, Ferrer, Babayaro, Duberry, Desailly, Leboeuf, Lambourde, Di Matteo, Poyet, Goldbaek, Petrescu, Morris, Nicholls, Vialli, Flo, Zola.

SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY (from): Srnicek, Atherton, Jonk, Walker, Carbone, Booth, Hyde, Cobian, Humphreys, Briscoe, Stefanovic, Oakes, Hinchcliffe, Sedloski, Emerson, Magilton, Rudi, Alexandersson, Sonner, Pressman, Clarke.

Suspensions: Chelsea: Wise. Sheffield Wednesday: Di Canio.

Referee: N Barry.

Coventry v

Leicester

Last season: 0-2

COVENTRY CITY are expected to be unchanged for today's home Premiership match against Leicester City, despite last week's 2-0 loss at the Riverside Stadium against Middlesbrough, although there is a question-mark hanging over striker Noel Whelan, who has a slight injury.

Manager Gordon Strachan will make a decision on his top scorer shortly before kick-off, with Darren Jackson, on loan from Celtic, on standby to replace Whelan as Darren Huckerby's partner.

Leicester manager Martin O'Neill also has cause for concern about the fitness of his top marksman, with Tony Cottee rated as doubtful with a hamstring strain. Swedish international Pontus Kaamark (Achilles) is definitely still out.

However, Matt Elliot can rest easy knowing he should not be summoned to the front-line again as a makeshift striker, the surprise role handed to him against Chelsea, with Emile Heskey making a timely recovery for the trip to Highfield Road and new signing Andy Impey likely to fill the other forward place.

COVENTRY CITY (from): Hedman, Nilsson, Shaw, Williams, Edworthy, Telfer, McAllister, Clement, Froggatt, Huckerby, Whelan, Boateng, Jackson, Soltvedt, Breen, Shilton, Wallemme, Ogrizovic.

LEICESTER CITY (from): Keller, Arphexad, Walsh, Guppy, Sinclair, Taggart, Elliott, Ullathorne, Impey, Savage, Izzet, Lennon, Zagorakis, Heskey, Wilson, McMahon, Oakes, Parker, Campbell, Fenton.

Suspensions: Coventry: Eustace. Leicester: None.

Referee: P Alcock.

Nottm Forest v

Aston Villa

Last season: No fixture

NOTTINGHAM FOREST have fitness concerns over Steve Stone and Chris Bart-Williams, each nursing knee injuries. Both will undergo late fitness tests before manager Dave Bassett finalises his plans. Forest, without a win in 11 League games, will definitely be without the suspended Alan Rogers. Craig Armstrong is expected to move from the centre of defence to deputise for him at left back as Bassett is considering reverting back to a 4-4-2 formation. Andy Johnson made a return to action in a reserve game on Tuesday after a five-week lay-off following hernia surgery and could be included among the substitutes.

Villa will have Ian Taylor back today. The midfielder, who missed last week's defeat at home to Liverpool because of a one-match ban, has decided to delay knee surgery. Taylor is expected to return at the expense of Mark Draper, while the striker Stan Collymore - who missed training with flu this week - hopes to be fit to line up against his former club. Villa's Australian international goalkeeper Mark Bosnich, who has missed the last eight games with a shoulder injury, is likely to be out again - although his comeback should not be too far away.

NOTTINGHAM FOREST (from): Beasant, Bonalair, Chettle, Armstrong, Hjelde, Edwards, Stone, Gemmill, Quashie, Bart-Williams, Gray, Freedman, van Hooijdonk, Darcheville, Dawson, Johnson, Shipperley, Crossley.

ASTON VILLA (from): Oakes, Watson, Ehiogu, Southgate, Barry, Wright, Taylor, Hendrie, Merson, Collymore, Dublin, Joachim, Draper, Thompson, Charles, Grayson, Rachel.

Suspensions: Forest: Rogers. Villa: None.

Referee: G Willard.

TOMORROW'S SKY GAME

Liverpool v Blackburn

Last season: 0-0

PAUL INCE is available for Liverpool after being suspended by Uefa for the 3-1 midweek European defeat with Celta Vigo. Still out injured is winger Steve McManaman, while Steve Harkness - suffering knee damage after Stan Collymore's tackle last weekend - and Jason McAteer (hamstring) are both also out.

Gerard Houllier must decide what to do with a porous defence which has conceded 15 goals in six matches. Phil Babb, who played in the 4-2 win against Aston Villa but was only a midweek substitute in Spain, is likely to be given another chance.

Blackburn, bottom after losing 2-0 at home to Southampton last week, have Darren Peacock out with a foot injury and caretaker manager Tony Parkes could also be without Jason Wilcox, who is struggling with illness. "Darren injured his foot against Southampton and we've since found out he has a broken toe. Jason phoned in ill this morning and we will have to see how he goes," said Parkes.

Billy McKinlay is struggling to recover from a groin problem and take the place of suspended captain Tim Sherwood. The Italian Dario Marcolin, on loan, could get his first Premiership start, with Christian Dailly again asked to play out of position.

LIVERPOOL (from): James, Heggem, Carragher, Babb, Staunton, Bjornebye, Berger, Ince, Redknapp, Thompson, Owen, Fowler, Riedle, Kvarme, Friedel, Leonhardsen, Murphy.

BLACKBURN (fromn): Filan, Kenna, Croft, Henchoz, Johnson, Dailly, Duff, Blake, Gallacher, Davies, Fettis, Broomes, Marcolin, Wilcox, Dunn, Taylor, Davidson, Perez.

Suspensions: Liverpool: None. Blackburn: Sherwood.

Referee: J Winter.

Southampton

v Derby

Last season: 0-2

SOUTHAMPTON EXPECT to have Carlton Palmer available today - three days after he had said his farewells to team-mates. Palmer's move to First Division Barnsley, which would have brought Welsh international Darren Barnard in the other direction, collapsed this week over personal terms. An ankle injury sustained in the 2-0 win at Blackburn might yet prevent Palmer reappearing, but there are other selection problems for manager Dave Jones. Matthew Le Tissier is suspended and Richard Dryden is out with a torn groin, and the composition of the defence depends on Ken Monkou recovering from a thigh strain.

Jim Smith will decide today whether to recall goalkeeper Russell Hoult. Hoult missed last Sunday's home defeat against West Ham because of a concussion he suffered at Nottingham Forest six days earlier but is back in training and pushing Mart Poom for the goalkeeper's jersey. Derby are still without injured captain Igor Stimac and striker Francesco Baiano while Smith will also make a decision on defender Jacob Laursen, who has been suffering from a heavy cold.

SOUTHAMPTON (from): Jones, Hiley, Dodd, Monkou, Benali, Lundekvam, Ripley, Palmer, Kachloul, M Hughes, Oakley, Ostenstad, Beattie, Bridge, Basham, Monk, Moss.

DERBY COUNTY (probable): Poom, Laursen, Carbonari, Elliott, Prior, Delap, Carsley, Powell, Bohinen, Dorigo, Harper, Wanchope, Sturridge, Burton, Hoult, Schnoor, Eranio, Bridge-Wilkinson, Christie.

Suspensions: Saints: Le Tissier. Derby: None.

Referee: S Lodge.

West Ham v

Tottenham

Last season: 2-1

WEST HAM'S Marc Keller is kept out today with hamstring trouble and will be replaced by Stan Lazaridis at left wing-back. Craig Forrest has resumed training but Les Sealey is likely to be the goalkeeping substitute as West Ham look for a win that could potentially take them to third tonight.

George Graham has named teenagers Luke Young and Alton Thelwell in a squad already lacking Colin Calderwood, through suspension, and Justin Edinburgh and Ramon Vega, both with knee injuries. Graham also has the Republic of Ireland Under-21 international Peter Gain and 20-year-old Mark Gower on standby for midfield duty. Andy Sinton or Clive Wilson look likely to replace Edinburgh at left-back. Moussa Saib is recovering from a long-term back injury, and Graham continues to ignore Italian Nicola Berti who is transfer listed. Steffen Iversen and Chris Armstrong stay in tandem up front.

WEST HAM UNITED (from): Hislop, Ferdinand, Pearce, Ruddock, Lomas, Lampard, Sinclair, Berkovic, Lazaridis, Hartson, Kitson, Sealey, Moncur, Potts, Margas, Breaker, Abou, Dicks.

TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR (from): Baardsen, Carr, Young, Campbell, Wilson, Sinton, Fox, Anderton, Nielsen, Clemence, Gower, Ginola, Armstrong, Iversen, Gain, Dominguez, Thelwell, Walker.

Suspensions: West Ham: None. Spurs: Calderwood.

Referee: D Gallagher.

TOMORROW

Arsenal v

Middlesbrough

Last season: No fixture

NIGEL WINTERBURN is expected to pass a fitness test on calf and ankle injuries to join Arsene Wenger's injury-ravaged squad for tomorrow's game. Tony Adams will be out for at least six weeks with a recurrent back complaint after being forced to opt out in pain of the 1-0 Champions' League defeat by Lens at Wembley on Wednesday at half-time. Patrick Vieira (hamstring) and Emmanuel Petit (torn stomach muscle) are out for three and four weeks respectively. Wenger fears Dennis Bergkamp's calf injury could also take three weeks to heal. Petit, Vieira and Bergkamp all missed the Lens match in which Winterburn was also injured but the 35-year-old defender was able to do some training yesterday. Steve Bould continues to deputise for Adams. Fredrik Ljungberg looks set to join Ray Parlour, Stephen Hughes and Remi Garde in midfield.

Middlesbrough will give late fitness tests to Paul Gascoigne and Curtis Fleming. Gascoigne has a calf injury and Fleming is struggling to overcome a knee injury. Robbie Mustoe will return after suspension but centre-back Gianluca Festa, who has a shoulder injury, will not be able to play.

ARSENAL (from): Seaman; Dixon, Keown, Bould, Winterburn, Parlour, Garde, Hughes, Ljungberg, Overmars, Wreh, Anelka, Upson, Grimandi, Vivas, Grondin, Boa Morte, Mendez, Manninger.

MIDDLESBROUGH (from): Schwarzer, Fleming, Stockdale, Baker, Cooper, Vickers, Gordon, Maddison, Summerbell, Townsend, Gascoigne, Mustoe, Ricard, Beck, Deane.

Suspensions: Arsenal: None. Boro: None.

Referee: G Barber.

Manchester Utd v Leeds Utd

Last season: 3-0

MANCHESTER UNITED will be without the injured Ryan Giggs, Teddy Sheringham and Ronny Johnsen for Leeds' visit to Old Trafford tomorrow. All three are recovering and in training and Alex Ferguson expects them to figure against Tottenham in Wednesday's Worthington Cup quarter-final at White Hart Lane but none will play any part this weekend. Ferguson reported no fresh injuries from Wednesday's epic 3-3 Champions' League encounter with Barcelona in the Nou Camp but United will still be without Jordi Cruyff (hamstring).

David O'Leary will also be without three key players as Leeds go in search of their first victory at Old Trafford for 17 years. Captain Lucas Radebe is again missing as he continues to recover from a knee ligament injury which has already kept him out for five games. Fellow centre-back Robert Molenaar and midfielder Lee Bowyer are also out as they serve one-match bans for picking up five bookings. Harry Kewell, with four goals this season, and Jimmy Hasselbaink (seven goals, including four in the last four games) should both start in the new look, exciting Leeds.

MANCHESTER UNITED (from): Schmeichel, Van der Gouw, Irwin, Brown, P Neville, G Neville, Curtis, Stam, Keane, Butt, Scholes, Beckham, Wilson, Blomqvist, Cole, Yorke, Solskjaer.

LEEDS UNITED (from): Martyn, Haaland, Wetherall, Wijnhard, Hasselbaink, Ribeiro, Hopkin, Granville, Lilley, Halle, Kewell, Harte, Hiden, Woodgate, McPhail, Smith, Robinson.

Suspensions: Man Utd: None. Leeds: Molenaar, Bowyer.

Referee: G Poll.

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