Who's in and who's out? Today's Premier League team news

Blackburn v Sunderland: Do-or-die time, says Allardyce 3pm; Highlights: 10.50pm, BBC1

Rovers manager Sam Allardyce will be without midfielder Vince Grella (thigh) and David Dunn (calf) although Brett Emerton, pictured right, could return after missing Boxing Day's 1-1 draw at Wigan. The hosts have drawn blanks in seven of their last 11 league games and Allardyce is under no illusions of the importance of today's match. "We've let points go begging recently, so this game becomes the most important of our season," he said. "It has come to the stage where we have to get a win."

Visiting counterpart Steve Bruce faces something of a defensive crisis, with Anton Ferdinand (ankle) sidelined and Michael Turner serving the second of a four-match suspension. John Mensah (hamstring) is a doubt, as are Kieran Richardson and Kenwyne Jones (both calf), while Lee Cattermole missed the draw with Everton after tweaking a hamstring and may struggle to return. Craig Gordon (arm) remains out. "We're up against it at the moment," Bruce admitted. "We're down to the bare bones a little bit but that will test our resolve." Blackburn are without a win in seven league games, while Sunderland have not prevailed in their last six.



Chelsea v Fulham: Blues seek farewell fillip from African stars 3pm; Highlights: 10.50pm, BBC1

Carlo Ancelotti is able to play Didier Drogba, John Obi Mikel and Salomon Kalou after reaching an agreement over their involvement in the upcoming African Cup of Nations. "We asked if Drogba and Kalou could stay and [Ivory Coast] agreed," Ancelotti said. "That is good because Fulham are in good condition and I expect a tough game." Florent Malouda serves a suspension after his dismissal at Birmingham so Joe Cole will start in midfield. Nicolas Anelka and Michael Essien (both hamstring), Deco (dead leg) and Jose Bosingwa (knee) are all out.

Central defender Brede Hangeland is Fulham's main concern after tweaking a knee in the warm-up before the goalless draw with Spurs. Ghanaian defender John Pantsil plays his last match before departing for the African Cup of Nations, while Andrew Johnson may return to partner Bobby Zamora up front after 12 weeks on the sidelines with a groin injury. Clint Dempsey is set to make his 100th Premier League appearance for the Whites, a year to the day after scoring twice in a 2-2 draw with Chelsea at Craven Cottage. Fulham last won at Stamford Bridge in October 1979.

Everton v Burnley: Moyes may welcome back captain Neville 3pm; Highlights: 10.50pm, BBC1

There are signs of light at the end of the injury tunnel for Toffees manager David Moyes, with Phil Neville in contention for a first appearance since September, and Sylvain Distin and Joseph Yobo nearing fitness. Club captain Neville was an unused substitute at Sunderland after recovering from a knee injury.

Burnley manager Owen Coyle hopes to have defensive pair Clarke Carlisle and Steven Caldwell available after both missed the draw with Bolton with groin injuries. The visitors are aiming to improve on an abysmal away record that has seen them gain just one point from nine games and concede 29 times. On-loan striker David Nugent is likely to start in his home town after his equalising goal against the Wanderers on Boxing Day. "He knows I would like to keep him and he knows my opinion of him," Coyle said of the Portsmouth forward as the Clarets look for a first win in eight league matches.

Stoke v Birmingham: Bowyer in doubt as McLeish looks to extend run 3pm; Highlights: 10.50pm, BBC1

Midfielders Glenn Whelan and Salif Diao both miss out after picking up their fifth bookings of the season during the 2-0 defeat at Manchester City, while defenders Robert Huth (knee) and Andy Wilkinson (ankle) are also potential absentees. Manager Tony Pulis said his squad was feeling the effects of the busy Christmas schedule. "We need some fresh legs," he said. "Two tough matches in 48 hours is a big ask for anyone."

Blues midfielder Sebastian Larsson will undergo a fitness test after turning his ankle against Chelsea, although goalkeeper Joe Hart is expected to be available despite suffering a head injury during his starring role in the same match. Top-scoring midfielder Lee Bowyer is a minor doubt for the visitors, who are on a 10-match unbeaten run. "Can they keep doing it? I don't know," manager Alex McLeish said. "I'll have to see how they are before naming the team."

Tottenham v West Ham: Spurs boosted by King's comeback 12.45pm, TV: Sky Sports 1; Highlights: 10.50pm, BBC1

Ledley King is in line to make a first start in seven weeks after recovering from a hamstring injury. Sébastien Bassong has recovered from a kick to the head during the draw at Fulham but may lose his place as Spurs look to keep a fourth successive clean sheet. Luka Modric and Jermain Defoe could both start after being confined to the bench at Craven Cottage, with Robbie Keane and Jermaine Jenas liable to miss out.

Valon Behrami and Luis Jimenez are battling to take the place of Mark Noble, who injured a hamstring during the 2-0 win over Portsmouth, but Gianfranco Zola has no other new injury worries as he tries to improve on the Hammers' record of just one point in their last seven games with Spurs. Midfielder Jack Collison is confident of victory: "The last two games have given us confidence that we can get a result from Spurs. The last two games we've given our all and we have to continue this form and continue fighting because we have to get another three points."



Wolves v Manchester City: McCarthy relishes City test 7.45pm, TV: Sky Sports 1; Highlights: 10.50pm, BBC1

Defender Stephen Ward misses out through suspension after his eventual red card at Liverpool on Saturday, with George Elokobi likely to earn a recall as his replacement. David Edwards remains on the sidelines, but Mick McCarthy has no problems with his team's tough festive period as they welcome the might of Manchester City. "It's fine by me. It's better than Derby and Nottingham Forest in the Championship at home. There's nothing wrong with Derby or Nottingham, it's just the Premier League and I'm enjoying it. I'll take the tough games." Wolves have won their last two home games, against Bolton and Burnley.

Roberto Mancini could recall Craig Bellamy to the starting line-up following Robinho's anonymous display against Stoke. Shaun Wright-Phillips may recover from an ankle injury and defender Kolo Toure will make his last appearance before leaving for the African Cup of Nations, although strikers Roque Santa Cruz, Benjani and Emmanuel Adebayor all miss out as the visitors seek a first away league victory since the 1-0 win at Portsmouth at the end of August.

Voices
There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm today
News
File: James Woods attends the 52nd New York Film Festival at Walter Reade Theater on September 27, 2014
peopleActor was tweeting in wake of NYPD police shooting
Sport
Martin Skrtel heads in the dramatic equaliser
SPORTLiverpool vs Arsenal match report: Bandaged Martin Skrtel heads home in the 97th-minute
News
Billie Whitelaw was best known for her close collaboration with playwright Samuel Beckett, here performing in a Beckett Trilogy at The Riverside Studios, Hammersmith
people'Omen' star was best known for stage work with Samuel Beckett
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'