Chelsea's fading realisation of European competition next season is likely be suffer another setback today when Mark Hughes, their striker, faces a Football Association commission to explain his burgeoning disciplinary record.
Hughes, the Welsh international, has already missed seven games through suspension and there is a danger that figure could now reach double figures. Any fresh suspension will start on Saturday, and there is also the possibility of a fine, after Hughes' card tally reached the 45-point mark.
The hearing comes only three days after Chelsea lost their Wembley chance against Manchester United, while the club's slump of one win in the last seven Premiership games means an uphill task to earn a place in the Uefa Cup on their League position.
Hughes' absence over Easter would be an unwelcome setback. Chelsea are at home to Aston Villa on Saturday and then away to Bolton two days later, but it looks inevitable unless he can convince the commission otherwise.
Last season, Ian Wright was banned for four games and fined pounds 1,000 after being called up after breaching level three of the disciplinary structure, although he was a month ahead of Hughes. "Mark Hughes will have a chance to speak to the commission and explain why he has been booked so much," an FA official said.
Mark Ford, the Leeds midfielder, was also scheduled to appear at the FA after reaching 45 points, but his club have a match against Southampton and his case will be dealt with in correspondence.
Meanwhile, the Chelsea connection continues when Mick Harford makes a plea in mitigation following an incident during the FA Cup sixth-round draw against Wimbledon at Stamford Bridge last month. Harford verbally attacked Glenn Hoddle, the Chelsea manager, and later gesticulated at supporters after his substitution in the second half.
Paul Danson, the fourth official, reported only the latter incident, while Wimbledon will point out that they were the target for verbal abuse throughout the match.
n Besiktas, the Turkish club, are believed to be tabling a lucrative deal to tempt Kenny Dalglish back into management. It is thought they are preparing to offer him pounds 500,000 a season.
Suleyman Seba, the club's president, has been quoted as saying: "We will be speaking with Kenny Dalglish later this month." Dalglish is Blackburn's director of football after handing over the manager's post to Ray Harford, after last season's Premiership title triumph.
n Manchester United are apparently interested in Panathinaikos' right winger, George Donis. Reports from Athens suggest United have been tracking the player and that a club scout watched him in their European Cup quarter- final against Legia Warsaw. Officials of the Greek club say United, who have not commented on the reports, are willing to offer pounds 2.5m.
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