Midfielder Abou Diaby said manager Arsène Wenger has assured him of more playing time in future months. "I was expecting to play more, but I am not worried," the Frenchman said. "I have spoken to the boss about it and he has given me confidence. I am trying and work every day to play."
Olof Mellberg has spoken of his enjoyment at playing for the club for seven years. The Swede has agreed to join Juventus in the summer. "The club will always have a place in my heart," he said. "I have had my best football years here. I have enjoyed my football the most at Villa."
The Tunisia midfielder Medhi Nafti will hold talks with the club over his future after the African Nations Cup. "We told him we'd speak to him when he came back," manager Alex McLeish said. "We have an option on him. We can have a chat about where things go forward."
The goalkeeper Jason Brown has extended his contract at Ewood Park and will now remain at the club until 2011. The former Charlton player has made just one first-team appearance for the club since signing from Gillingham in 2006, saving a penalty during a 2-1 victory over Wigan.
Barcelona forward Eidur Gudjohnsen will not be making a return to the Reebok Stadium, according to the player's father. The Icelander has been linked with a return to the club where he spent two seasons before joining Chelsea in 2000. "Eidur isn't going anywhere," his father Arnor said. "He and his family are settled in Barcelona."
Michael Ballack faces a fitness test ahead of tonight's visit of Reading. Salomon Kalou, John Obi Mikel, Michael Essien and Didier Drogba (all African Nations Cup), John Terry (foot), Andrei Shevchenko (back) and Frank Lampard (thigh) miss out.
Probable team (4-4-2): Cech; Ferreira, Bridge, Carvalho, Alex; Sidwell/Ballack, J Cole, Malouda, Wright-Phillips; Pizarro, Anelka.
The defender Lewin Nyatanga sits out the match with Manchester City tonight through suspension. Craig Fagan may return from a ban but American midfielder Eddie Lewis is out with a knee injury.
Probable team (4-4-2): Price; Edworthy, Davis, Moore, Todd; Robert, Savage, Ghaly, Barnes; Miller, Villa.
Midfielder Leon Osman (calf) faces a late fitness test ahead of the visit of Tottenham tonight. Thomas Gravesen (knee) remains out of action while Tim Cahill and Tony Hibbert miss out through suspension.
Probable team (4-4-2): Howard; Stubbs, Lescott, Jagielka, Valente; Arteta, Neville, Carsley, Fernandes/Osman; Johnson; Anichebe.
The club's move for Rangers striker Daniel Cousin has fallen through after Fifa refused to sanction the move. The world governing body turned down the Gabon international's move to Craven Cottage as he has already appeared for two clubs this season, the maximum number Fifa regulations allow.
Steven Gerrard, Jose Reina, Jamie Carragher, Fernando Torres and Xabi Alonso could all return at West Ham tonight after being rested for the match with Havant and Waterlooville last weekend.
Probable team (4-4-2): Reina; Finnan, Carragher, Hyypia, Aurelio; Pennant, Alonso, Gerrard, Mascherano; Kuyt, Torres.
Manager Sven-Goran Eriksson awaits news on Micah Richards ahead of tonight's trip to Derby after the defender's knee injury caused him to miss the defeat at Sheffield United last week.
Probable team (4-4-2): Hart; Dunne, Richards, Corluka, Ball; Fernandes, Petrov, Vassell, Elano; Mpenza, Sturridge.
Midfielder Paul Scholes could return to the starting line-up against Portsmouth at Old Trafford tonight after recovering from a knee injury. Defender Nemanja Vidic (virus) remains a doubt.
Probable team (4-4-2): Van der Sar; Brown, Ferdinand, Vidic/O'Shea, Evra; Ronaldo, Scholes, Hargreaves, Giggs; Rooney, Tevez.
Gareth Southgate admits the fitness of striker Mido is proving a concern to the club. "We have to work with him to get that fitness up to speed," the manager said of the Egyptian. "It's something we're working on twice a day. He knows that to play a part for us he has to be fit."
Kevin Keegan believes Shola Ameobi displays similar qualities to that of Arsenal's Emmanuel Adebayor. "What I first saw of Adebayor is what I saw of Ameobi when he first came on the scene," Keegan said. "Adebayor has kicked on and Shola has had injuries, but I don't think it's too late."
Milan Baros could make his debut at Manchester United tonight following his loan move from Lyons. Benjani (neck/shoulder) remains a doubt but Sol Campbell (back) and Sean Davis should return.
Probable team (4-4-2): James; Johnson, Campbell, Distin, Hreidarsson; Davis, Diarra, Mendes, Kranjcar; Benjani, Baros.
Brynjar Gunnarsson [groin], Shane Long [ban], and Michael Duberry [knee] miss the visit to Chelsea tonight. Marek Matejovsky could start, but Jimmy Kebe [hamstring] misses out.
Probable team (4-4-2): Hahnemann; Murty, De la Cruz, Ingimarsson, Shorey; Matejovsky, Harper, Hunt, Convey; Doyle, Kitson.
Black Cats manager Roy Keane admits he signed the Swedish forward Rade Prica as part insurance for striker Kenwyne Jones. "Prica is a good six foot and he's got a good leap on him," Keane said of the 27-year-old. "We needed something like that if anything happened to Kenwyne."
New signing Jonathan Woodgate could be handed his debut at Everton tonight in place of the suspended Michael Dawson. Right-back Pascal Chimbonda returns from a one-game ban.
Probable team (4-4-2): Cerny; Chimbonda, Woodgate/Huddlestone, King, Lee; Lennon, Jenas, O'Hara, Malbranque; Berbatov, Keane.
West Ham United
Dean Ashton and Matthew Etherington may return against Liverpool tonight, though Julien Faubert [calf] could miss out. Craig Bellamy [stomach] and Nolberto Solano [hamstring] have resumed training but lack match fitness.
Probable team (4-4-2): Green; Neill, Spector, Ferdinand, Upson; Noble, Mullins, Etherington, Boa Morte; Ashton, Cole.
Marlon King said he was confident his time at the JJB stadium would be successful. The former Watford striker completed a £5m move to the Latics last week after a transfer to Fulham broke down. "I'm buzzing and looking forward to playing a part," he said. "There's quality right through the squad but I'd like to think I'll bring something different."Reuse content