Today in the Premier League
Arsène Wenger will again be without Abou Diaby [calf] and Tomas Rosicky [hamstring] for the trip to Chelsea on Sunday. "Nobody is back," the manager said of his squad. "There are no additional injuries, but Diaby has still not joined the group and it is difficult to say with Tomas at the moment."
Craig Gardner [back] could return from injury for the visit of Sunderland tomorrow and may be required to cover for the suspended Olof Mellberg in defence. "He's a midfielder," Villa manager Martin O'Neill said. "But there is nothing to prevent him thinking he can play in that position."
Sebastian Larsson could be fit to face Reading tomorrow despite picking up a knee injury against Newcastle this week. "We thought he had ligament damage," City manager Alex McLeish said. "But it's settled down a bit and he's fighting fit for this game. He's made great progress."
Swiss international Johann Vogel will miss the visit of Wigan tomorrow as the midfielder lacks match fitness and has yet to receive international clearance. "Once the clearance comes through," Rovers manager Mark Hughes said of the 31-year-old, "We will make sure he is up to speed."
The club have been fined £5,000 by Uefa relating to disturbances during the goaless second leg of their 1-0 aggregate victory over Atletico Madrid this month. The Spanish side have also been ordered to pay £15,000 after their supporters threw missiles on the pitch during the Round-of-32 match on 14 March.
The Blues youth side reached the final of the FA Youth Cup final for the first time since 1961 after a 3-2 victory at Aston Villa on Wednesday saw the Blues win 4-3 on aggregate. Paul Clement's side will now face Manchester City in a two-legged final, with the first match to be played at Stamford Bridge. Dates have yet to be confirmed.
Paul Jewell hopes Robbie Savage's display in the 1-0 defeat to Manchester United last week will increase the Welshman's confidence for the rest of the campaign and into next season. "Hopefully that will give him confidence," Jewell said. "Not just for this season, but more importantly for next season."
Uefa has ordered the Toffees to pay £2,500 after their fans invaded the pitch during the Uefa Cup round-of-32 match with Brann Bergen last month, while their Norwegian opponents have been fined £7,500 for offences by home fans, including the throwing of a pool ball on to the pitch.
Roy Hodgson has challenged former Finland international Jari Litmanen to prove himself worthy of an extended contract at Craven Cottage. The forward has returned to training after an ankle injury. "Who knows – maybe we'll like what we see and want to keep him next season," Hodgson said.
Rafael Benitez has backed Manchester United counterpart Alex Ferguson's comments on Premier League referees needing to "protect" Cristiano Ronaldo. "Ferguson was talking about referees having to protect Ronaldo," the Reds manager said. "It's important to protect all players with quality."
Owner Thaksin Shinawatra has promised Sven Goran Eriksson funds will be made available for transfers this summer to aid the Thai's ambitions of achieving Champions League football. "That's my ambition as well," Eriksson said. "Everything he promised he has lived up to."
Former midfielder Bryan Robson has been appointed to an ambassadorial role at Old Trafford. "Since signing for the club, it's always been special," he said. "I enjoyed my happiest and most memorable times at Old Trafford. It will be great to play a role in making the club even more successful."
George Boateng believes David Wheater has the qualities to establish himself as an England regular after the 21-year-old's maiden call-up yesterday. "In a few years this boy is going to be England's first-choice centre-back," he said. "If he stays the way he is and develops his game."
Nicky Butt said the Magpies are confident they have the quality and experience to avoid relegation. "Looking at each other in the dressing room, we know we have more than enough to get out of it," he said. "We know if we keep playing and performing like we did [at Birmingham], we will be okay."
Manager Harry Redknapp said he was delighted three Pompey players were named in yesterday's England squad but remained anxious that the trio stay fit for next month's FA Cup semi-final with West Bromwich Albion. "It is not ideal," he said. "We'll have loads of players away next week."
Steve Coppell has asked football's governing bodies to amend the game's laws and follow rugby's lead to ensure greater respect for referees. "If we refereed football games the way rugby games are refereed," he said. "There would be a compound interest effect throughout society."
Roy Keane believes this season's relegation battle is the most intriguing for a "long, long time". "Over the next few weeks, a lot of teams are playing each other," the Black Cats manager said. "This season it could go to the last day and there might be three or four teams who could still go down."
Manager Juande Ramos said he would have preferred to keep Jermain Defoe at White Hart Lane but understood the forward's reasons to leave the club and join Pompey. "It was the decision that he made," the Spaniard said. "He decided that he wanted to leave and I respect that."
West Ham United
Manager Alan Curbishley feels it is increasingly difficult for young players like Freddie Sears, James Tomkins and Jack Collison to be given an opportunity in the Premier League. "The three of them are waiting to get 90 minutes," he said. "The strength of the Premier League makes it very difficult for kids to get in now."
Captain Mario Melchiot has attributed the Latic's recent run of form to goalkeeper Chris Kirkland. "In the last two games, the great saves he made for us have made a hell of a difference," the Dutch defender said. "When you have a good goalie, it makes you feel comfortable knowing you don't have to worry about what you've got behind you."
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