Gullit doubtful for FA Cup showdown

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Football

Ruud Gullit was last night ordered back to bed on the eve of Chelsea's FA Cup sixth-round replay against Wimbledon at Selhurst Park tonight.

Gullit missed Saturday's defeat at Liverpool and his worried manager, Glenn Hoddle, has given the Dutch midfielder until lunchtime today to show that he is fit to help the club chase a semi-final tie with Manchester United.

"You want a player of Ruud's stature in a cup game like this," Hoddle said. "We put vitamins down him all weekend and he's had enough sleep. But, when he tried to train today, it took a lot out of him and he's been sent back to bed.

"Craig Burley came in at the weekend against Liverpool and did very well after cartilage operations on both knees, but we'll have to wait and see how Ruud is before we leave for the match."

The stage is set for another competitive encounter, after Wimbledon's Mick Harford earned a Association disrepute charge following the original 2-2 draw at Stamford Bridge. Harford, on the bench after his substitution, gave Hoddle a verbal assault but the FA's action came after the veteran forward gesticulated at fans. "What happened won't affect us," the Dons' manager, Joe Kinnear, said. "Things are said in the heat of the moment and Mick has apologised, so have I, and Glenn understands the situation. We took untold abuse from the people behind the dug-out throughout the match and Mick reacted as anyone else would have done."

Hoddle confirmed: "I've said my piece to the FA and it's in their hands. They have had a complaint from a supporter but, as far as we are concerned, it's forgotten." Regarding on-field events, he added: "We have had very tight games against Wimbledon and this will be no different. We need to be more clinical in front of goal, but we've been to Newcastle and won in the Cup and we'll be positive tomorrow."

Gullit apart, the key performer could be Dennis Wise who, along with his Chelsea colleague Terry Phelan, helped Wimbledon win at Wembley against Liverpool in 1988. "Dennis did the holding role for us in the first match and did it well, but it restricts him a bit," Hoddle said. "He has had some tremendous games in the hub of the side and he is relishing the replay."

Kinnear has his own fitness worries over his key striker, Dean Holdsworth, but the tie offers his side a welcome distraction from relegation worries. "I'm confident on both fronts," he said. "I think we can get a decent result against Chelsea and do well in the Premiership. We've been in the top flight for 10 years and there is no way we are going to let it go. But first it's Chelsea."

Vinnie Jones and Andy Thorne are the only survivors from the success of eight years ago, and Kinnear said: "I'd be very proud to take Wimbledon to Wembley. And if we did that, we'd be staring Europe in the face - and that would be a fantastic achievement."

Gary McAllister returns to the Leeds side tonight, ready to pit his wits against one of his biggest fans. Liverpool's John Barnes pinpoints the Scotland international as the main threat to the Anfield side's dreams of the double.

McAllister is back for the FA Cup quarter-final replay at Anfield after being rested for the 2-2 draw with Everton. Barnes is only too aware of the pedigree of a player who will lead out Leeds at Wembley on Sunday in the Coca-Cola Cup final against Aston Villa. He said: "McAllister is their key player, their playmaker. Most of their moves revolve around him. We know Leeds will try and suck us in, hoping to catch us on the break. We have got to be aware of that. There is quality throughout their side with players like McAllister, Tony Yeboah and Tomas Brolin. I know Brolin is having a difficult time but he can be a match-winner, no doubt about that."

Liverpool are hoping to stretch their unbeaten run to 20 matches and are still harbouring hopes of the championship, despite Newcastle's success last night. Yeboah is expected to be back for Leeds after ankle and foot injuries while Tony Dorigo could also figure. Gary Speed, who saw a specialist on Monday about his fractured cheekbone, is unlikely to play, though.

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