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ViestiLähetetty: 04.04.2003, 20:21 
Status: JäsenLiittynyt: 02.03.2003, 13:00Viestit: 1683Paikkakunta: Turku
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Dunfermline v Motherwell

Dunfermline boss Jimmy Calderwood has two major doubts for the visit of Motherwell. Scotland striker Stevie Crawford returned from international duty with a rib injury while defender Lee Bullen has a hamstring problem. Defender Scott Thomson looks set to miss the rest of the season with ankle ligament damage, joining long-term casualties Andre Karnebeek, Gary Dempsey and Andrius Skerla on the sidelines.

Motherwell manager Terry Butcher has two players missing for their league game
against Dunfermline. Khaled Kemas has been struggling with a thigh strain for the last couple of weeks and he is still sidelined for the clash at East End Park. Also unavailable for selection is young midfielder Stephen Pearson who is currently serving a four-match ban after clashing with Darren Young during a match against Aberdeen.

Hearts v Dundee Utd

Hearts head coach Craig Levein has suffered a major blow ahead of the visit of Dundee United. Scotland defender Steven Pressley is rated very doubtful for the game after suffering an ankle knock late in the Euro 2004 qualifying defeat by Lithuania on Wednesday. Fellow defender Stephane Mahe is also struggling with an ankle injury but Levein is hopeful the former Celtic man will be fit.

Dundee United manager Ian McCall has been dealt three injury blows ahead of the trip to Edinburgh. Billy Dodds (Achilles), Derek Lilley (hamstring) and Mark Wilson (broken nose) all miss out. McCall could play midfielder Charlie Miller up front to boost his striking options.

Kilmarnock v Hibernian

Kilmarnock boss Jim Jefferies must choose who is to replace the injured Colin Meldrum in goal for the visit of Hibernian. Rookie Colin Stewart took over during last week's tour of Ireland but the veteran Gordon Marshall is also back in the equation. Marshall had been sidelined for two months with a shoulder injury but will be on the bench at least.

Hibernian manager Bobby Williamson is playing his cards close to his chest ahead of the trip to Kilmarnock. Williamson has two players carrying knocks for the game at his former club but refuses to name them. But striker Tom McManus has been boosted after being named Player of the Month for March.

Livingston v Aberdeen

Livingston manager Jim Leishman could be missing two defenders ahead of the visit of Aberdeen. Oscar Rubio is definitely out until the end of the season after a training ground incident with Gustave Bahoken left him with a broken cheekbone. Bahoken was the man responsible for Celtic striker Henrik Larsson's fractured jaw but Rubio's recovery isn't as likely to be as swift as the the Swede's, who was sidelined for only a month. Fellow defender Marvin Andrews is rated as being extremely doubtful for the game against Aberdeen after he picked up a thigh strain while on Gold Cup qualifying duty with Trinidad & Tobago.

Aberdeen defender Jamie McAllister is likely to be out for a month after chipping a bone in his ankle. Striker Darren Mackie is also ruled out of the trip to Livingston with a foot problem. Defender Russell Anderson and midfielder Eric Deloumeaux both return from suspension.

Rangers v Partick

Rangers will be without five first-team players for the visit of Partick Thistle. Barry Ferguson, Lorenzo Amoruso and Kevin Muscat are all suspended and Arthur Numan (knee) and Jerome Bonnissel (hamstring) are still sidelined by injury. But the league leaders have been boosted by the return to fitness of Steven Thompson (groin), Shota Arveladze (ankle), Michael Mols (thigh) and Neil McCann (thigh).

Partick Thistle will be without three regular squad members for the daunting trip to Rangers. Martin Hardie is suspended and Ian Ross has a hamstring problem and will miss out on the trip across Glasgow. Reserve goalkeeper Kevin Budinauckas will also miss the game after a medial ligament problem suffered in a practice game earlier in the week.

Dundee v Celtic

Dundee manager Jim Duffy has a defensive headache ahead of the visit of Celtic on Sunday. Scotland international Lee Wilkie has returned from Lithuania with a groin strain and is doubtful.Zura Khizanishvili could miss out with a knee problem while Tom Hutchinson is unavailable with a long-term knee injury. Midfielder Georgi Nemsadze is tired after international duty with Georgia but should be available.

Celtic manager Martin O'Neill admits he has "one or two problems" ahead of their visit to Dundee on Sunday following the internationals which have taken place over the last week. Joos Valgaeren tweaked his medial knee ligaments during Belgium's game against Croatia last week - although a scan has since shown little damage, it is not certain the big defender will be able to play a part at Dens Park. The same goes for Scotland goalkeeper Rob Douglas. He was forced to pull out of Wednesday's Euro 2004 qualifier against Lithuania after picking up a slight thigh strain against Iceland but O'Neill will wait until the last minute before making a decision on the pair.Didier Agathe has returned to training after tearing his hamstring against Rangers last month but it is unlikely he will feature on Sunday.
Aston Villa v Arsenal

Aston Villa are ready to name an unchanged side for the visit of the league leaders.

Joey Gudjonsson is available having missed the last two games due to an ankle injury and a one-match ban, but manager Graham Taylor will rely on the players so unfortunate to be pegged back by Southampton in the 2-2 draw at St Mary's.

Striker Marcus Allback could join Gudjonsson on the bench after scoring twice in midweek for Sweden, as 14-goal leading scorer Dion Dublin serves the second instalment of a three-game ban.

Arsenal will be without at least five first-team squad members for the trip to Villa Park.

Robert Pires and Giovanni van Bronckhorst are the latest additions to the Gunners' lengthy injury list, joining David Seaman, Martin Keown and Ashley Cole on the sidelines.

Pires damaged an ankle against Chelsea in the FA Cup quarter-final replay and subsequently missed France's two Euro 2004 qualifiers, while Van Bronckhorst also has an ankle problem after playing for Holland against the Czech Republic.

Seaman and Keown are back in training after hamstring injuries but are still short of comebacks, while Cole is in full training after a hernia operation but is more likely to return in the FA Cup semi-final against Sheffield United next weekend.

France Under-21 international Jeremie Aliadiere has, meanwhile, been ruled out for the rest of the season and is due to have a hernia operation next week.

Villa (from): Postma, Samuel, Mellberg, Johnsen, Wright, Hadji, Hendrie, Hitzlsperger, Barry, Crouch, Vassell, Enckelman, Allback, De la Cruz, S. Moore, Edwards, Gudjonsson.

Arsenal (from): Taylor, Warmuz, Lauren, Luzhny, Toure, Campbell, Cygan, Stepanovs, Vieira, Edu, Gilberto, Parlour, Wiltord, Ljungberg, Henry, Bergkamp, Jeffers, Kanu.
Bolton v Manchester City

Bolton boss Sam Allardyce is hoping his multi-cultural squad will quickly turn their attentions back to domestic matters as he prepares them for the derby with Lancashire rivals City.

All his internationals reported a clean bill of health after the exertions of the last 10 days, and there was further good news for Big Sam.

Defender Simon Charlton has recovered from the knee injury which forced him to miss the last two games, while winger Ricardo Gardner is also available having shrugged off a hamstring problem picked up in the win over Tottenham.

Paul Warhurst and Gareth Farrelly are both out on loan, while defender Mike Whitlow has been in action for the reserves as he targets a return to the first-team squad following a lay-off with a knee problem, but still lacks match fitness.

Manchester City boss Kevin Keegan is facing a defensive crisis ahead of the north-west derby - Niclas Jensen and Sun Jihai are suspended, while Danny Tiatto has been ruled out for the season with a stomach injury.

After his recent row with Keegan, Steve Howey probably would not have been considered but he misses out anyway with an Achilles problem, leaving Keegan to either bring in Richard Dunne or change his defensive system.

Marc-Vivien Foe is also ruled out with his wife due to give birth in France, although there is some good news for the City boss, with Eyal Berkovic set to return after his recent operation to rectify a groin problem.


Bolton (from): Jaaskelainen, N'Gotty, Bergsson, Laville, Charlton, Mendy, Frandsen, Gardner, Okocha, Campo, Nolan, Djorkaeff, Pedersen, Ballesta, Andre, Poole, Barness, Salva.

Manchester City (from): Schmeichel, Nash, Distin, Wiekens, Sommeil, Dunne, Wright-Phillips, Berkovic, Benarbia, Horlock, Anelka, Fowler, Goater, Belmadi, Bischoff, Barton, Macken, Jordan.
Charlton v Leeds

Charlton midfielder Scott Parker, who missed the 1-1 draw at Middlesbrough two weeks ago, is fit to return for the home match against Leeds United tomorrow.

But Graham Stuart, who suffered a calf strain when he returned to replace Parker in his first match since undergoing cruciate ligament surgery last September, will be out for another two weeks.

Leeds midfielder David Batty has been forced to withdraw from the squad due to a back injury.

Batty looked set for a place on the substitutes' bench after playing 90 minutes in the reserves this week. He had recovered from a dead leg sustained in the previous week's second-string match, but now suffers a fresh setback.

Peter Reid does have some good news, however, as he welcomes back Harry Kewell, Dominic Matteo, Gary Kelly and Michael Duberry into the fold.

Kewell has been out for the last four weeks and will play on the left wing, with Matteo, Kelly and Duberry all fit again after hamstring injuries.

Matteo, who has been out for the last two months, will play in the unaccustomed role in the centre of midfield, with Kelly on the right wing and Duberry partnering Lucas Radebe at the heart of defence.

Alan Smith will return to his customary position up front after a stint on the right for the struggling Yorkshire club.

Noticeably, three of the four signings made by former manager Terry Venables during his eight-month reign - Paul Okon, and the on-loan duo of Teddy Lucic and Raul Bravo - are not among the 18-man party travelling to London.

Charlton (from): Kiely, Kishishev, Rufus, Fish, Fortune, Konchesky, Powell, Parker, Young, Euell, Jensen, Bartlett, Lisbie, Rachubka, El Khalej, Svensson, Johansson.

Leeds United (from): Robinson, Mills, Radebe, Duberry, Harte, Kelly, Bakke, Matteo, Kewell, Viduka, Smith, Wilcox, Milner, Barmby, Batty, Kilgallon, Simon Johnson, Martyn.
Manchester United v Liverpool

Phil Neville is looking for a 100% finish to the Premiership season as Manchester United bid to reclaim their domestic crown - starting with Liverpool live on Sky Sports 1 on Saturday afternoon.

United have only beaten Gerard Houllier's side once in the last eight meetings so it is going to be far from easy for United to get their run-in off on the right foot, but Neville is looking froward to the challenege of one of the biggest games on the European football calendar.

"In terms of the rivalry between the teams, Liverpool is the biggest game on the football calendar in England and it should be another exciting match," he said.

"Apart from our victory in November, our results against them haven't been too clever. We must do better tomorrow because we need three points.

"If we win all our remaining league games we will overhaul Arsenal and win it. That has to be our aim, so there is no way we can even afford to draw."

United boss Sir Alex Ferguson will have skipper Roy Keane back but £28.1million midfielder Juan Sebastian Veron again misses out.

Keane returns after five games out with a hamstring injury, while Veron has not played since picking up a knee injury in the Barclaycard Premiership clash with Leeds on March 5.

With victory against their north-west rivals essential at the start of a month which also sees his side face a Champions League quarter-final with Real Madrid, plus testing Premiership visits to title rivals Newcastle and Arsenal, Ferguson will hope his squad have returned from their various international commitments
without injury.

Liverpool goalkeeper Jerzy Dudek believes their recent Worthington Cup final win over United gives them no advantage ahead of the game at Old Trafford.

The Polish international pointed out that memories of the Premiership defeat at Anfield could have affected the side at the Millennium Stadium, so he believes it is best to just concentrate onthe game in hand.

"I don't think what happened in Cardiff will have any bearing on Saturday's match - certainly not as far as I'm concerned. March 2 was a fantastic day, of course, but it's well in the past now," he said.

"And just as I didn't think about what had happened against United when I was playing in Wales, I won't be thinking back to the Worthington Cup final this weekend. The past is the past, and what matters now is the present."

Michael Owen - the match-winner in Cardiff - could still be feeling the back injury he suffered against Turkey mid-week, but he is the only serious injury doubt Liverpool have.

Owen was injured on England duty against Turkey on Wednesday and had to come off at the Stadium of Light. He returned to Liverpool's training ground the following morning for intensive treatment, and that will continue for the next 24 hours.

Liverpool desperately need their top scorer for a match that will have a major bearing on their Champions League hopes, and so they can keep their excellent run against United going.


Manchester United squad: Barthez, Carroll, Ricardo, G Neville, Brown, Ferdinand, Silvestre, O'Shea, Beckham, P Neville, Scholes, Butt, Keane, Giggs, van Nistelrooy, Solskjaer, Forlan, Roche, Richardson, Pugh, Fletcher.

Liverpool squad: Dudek, Carragher, Hyypia, Traore, Riise, Diouf, Hamann,
Gerrard, Murphy, Owen, Heskey, Baros, Diao, Smicer, Biscan, Arphexad, Berger,
Cheyrou, Mellor.
Middlesbrough v West Brom

Brazilian midfielder Doriva could make his Premiership debut for Middlesbrough against West Brom.

Central defender Chris Riggott returns to the squad after a knee operation but midfielder George Boateng (ankle) and full-back Stuart Parnaby (hamstring) are ruled out.

Striker Michael Ricketts (Achilles) is given a 50-50 chance of playing as Middlesbrough seek to avenge a 1-0 defeat at The Hawthorns.

West Brom's slim survival hopes have been boosted by the return of defender Phil Gilchrist.

The former Leicester centre-half has missed the last two games with a knee injury but successfully came through Tuesday's reserve clash against Liverpool.

On the minus side, midfielder Andy Johnson is set to miss his fifth successive match with a broken toe.

Wing-back Ifeanyi Udeze is a doubt after suffering knee and throat damage on international duty for Nigeria against Malawi last weekend, while Jordao (knee) and Adam Chambers (shin) are both sidelined along with long-term casualties Darren Moore and Michael Appleton, who have knee problems.


Middlesbrough (from): Schwarzer, Cooper, Stockdale, Ehiogu, Southgate, Riggott, Queudrue, Geremi, Greening, Doriva, Juninho, Job, Nemeth, Christie, Ricketts, Maccarone, Davies, Murphy, Jones.

West Brom (from): Hoult, Sigurdsson, Wallwork, Gilchrist, Clement, Udeze, Balis, Koumas, Gregan, McInnes, Dichio, Roberts, Lyttle, J. Chambers, Hughes, Dobie, Murphy.
Southampton v West Ham

Midfielder Chris Marsden returns to Southampton's starting line-up for the match against West Ham on Saturday.

Marsden will start on the left-hand side of midfield after being rested for the last two games to ensure he avoided a booking that would have ruled him out of next weekend's FA Cup semi-final against Watford.

Anders Svensson is expected to overcome a niggling ankle problem while Rory Delap could be back in contention for the first time in six weeks after knee ligament trouble.

But defender Jason Dodd is doubtful with a foot injury while strikers Agustin Delgado and Marian Pahars are both out with long-term back and ankle problems.

Lee Bowyer returns to the West Ham squad for the trip to St Mary's after completing a two-match suspension.

The only injury doubt is midfielder Michael Carrick, who picked up a stomach strain playing for England Under-21s last week. He faces a late fitness test.


Southampton (from): Niemi, Telfer, Lundekvam, M Svensson, Delap, A Svensson, Dodd, Bridge, Fernandes, Oakley, Prutton, Marsden, Beattie, Ormerod, Davies, Tessem, Williams, Arias, Jones.

West Ham (from): James, Johnson, Brevett, Pearce, Repka, Carrick, Bowyer, Sinclair, Cole, Lomas, Defoe, L Ferdinand, Kanoute, Di Canio, Hutchison, Minto, Dailly, Schemmel, Breen, Moncur, Cisse, A Ferdinand, Ward, Van der Gouw
Sunderland v Chelsea

Mick McCarthy faces an injury crisis ahead of Sunderland's Barclaycard Premiership game against Chelsea at The Stadium of Light.

Tore Andre Flo (thigh), Jason McAteer (hamstring), Jody Craddock (thigh), Stephen Wright (hamstring), Matt Piper (groin), Thomas Butler (calf) and Paul Thirlwell (groin) are all out, while Kevin Kilbane faces a late test on a groin injury he suffered while on international duty with Ireland this week.

Gavin McCann is back after a two-game ban, while Marcus Stewart and Kevin Kyle come into contention for a start alongside Kevin Phillips.

Chelsea have five players out of contention for the trip to the Stadium of Light but they welcome the return of Frenchman Marcel Desailly.

Manager Claudio Ranieri revealed that Mario Stanic, Jesper Gronkjaer, Celestine Babayaro, Emmanuel Petit and Eidur Gudjohnsen are all out of Saturday's game, and as a result Robert Huth and Filipe Oliveira have been added to the squad.

Sunderland (from): Sorensen, Poom, Williams, El Karkouri, Bjorklund, Babb, Gray, McCartney, McCann, Thornton, Kilbane, Phillips, Kyle, Stewart, Oster, Proctor, Arca.

Chelsea (from): Cudicini, De Goey, Melchiot, Gallas, Terry, Desailly, Huth, Le Saux, De Lucas, Oliveira, Lampard, Morris, Zenden, Zola, Hasselbaink and Cole.
Tottenham v Birmingham

Tottenham's list of injury-absentees has grown to eight on the eve of their clash with Birmingham City.

Steffen Freund has damaged a stomach muscle, while Anthony Gardner - sidelined recently by hamstring trouble - turned an ankle in the second match of his comeback with the reserves.

Manager Glenn Hoddle adds youngsters Alton Thelwell and Rohan Ricketts to a squad already shorn of Dean Richards, Christian Ziege, Steffen Iversen, Jamie Redknapp, Jamie Slabber and Ben Thatcher, who pulled a calf muscle in the most recent match, a 2-0 home defeat by Liverpool.

Of that group, Hoddle admits he expects only Richards (back) and Gardner to be available within two weeks.

The visitors will be without record signing Clinton Morrison and midfielder Robbie Savage for the trip to White Hart Lane.

Morrison will miss the rest of the season after dislocating his shoulder in the 1-0 home win over West Brom and he will be replaced by Geoff Horsfield, whose injury-time goal sunk the Baggies.

Savage is serving a two-match ban for incurring 10 bookings, although he would in any case be sidelined with an ankle problem suffered when on international duty for Wales.

In addition, goalkeeper Andy Marriott is on stand-by after current number one Ian Bennett suffered an ankle knock in training on Friday afternoon.

Marriott was signed from Barnsley last month until the end of the season as cover for Bennett after Nico Vaesen suffered knee ligament damage.

Damien Johnson, Piotr Swierczewski and Darren Carter will come into contention for a role in the centre of the park while winger Stan Lazaridis will have a late fitness check on his hamstring strain.

Spurs (from): Keller, Carr, Perry, King, Bunjevcevic, Taricco, Sheringham, Keane, Anderton, Acimovic, Poyet, Davies, Doherty, Toda, Etherington, Thelwell, Ricketts, Sullivan

Birmingham (from): Bennett, Marriott, Davies, Kenna, Upson, Cunningham, M. Johnson, Clapham, Devlin, D. Johnson, Lazaridis, Coly, Swierczewski, Clemence, Kirovski, Horsfield, John, Dugarry,
Bradford v Millwall

Bradford manager Nicky Law is hoping defender Andy Myers returns from a thigh strain, with Wayne Jacobs and Lewis Emanuel both struggling with hamstring problems.

Millwall new signing Mark McCammon looks set to make his debut up front but Steven Reid
remains doubtful after being forced to pull out of the Republic of Ireland squad with an Achilles injury.

Defender Paul Robinson (ankle) and Matt Lawrence (foot) are battling for fitness but Ronnie Bull is back after illness and Tim Cahill is pushing for a recall after nearly six months out with cruciate knee ligament
Burnley v Watford

Burnley are likely to be without Paul Cook (ankle) and Alan Moore (groin), however, Drissa Diallo is expected to start after shaking off a knock and Lee Briscoe is approaching full fitness following a bout of flu.

Arthur Gnohere stands by to replace Diallo, with Tony Grant ready to fill Cook's boots.

FA Cup semi-finalists Watford are boosted by the return of Allan Nielsen returns from a calf injury.

On-loan Newcastle striker Michael Chopra has recovered after suffering cramp on his debut but Heidar Helguson remains doubtful with a thigh injury and defender Marcus Gayle misses out with knee ligament damage.
Crystal Palace v Sheffield United

Crystal Palace defender Tony Popovic expects to return from a calf injury and Hayden Mullins is available after suspension.

But Darren Powell begins a two-match ban and Aki Riihilahti (thigh), Andrew Johnson (hamstring), Jamie Smith (hamstring) and Curtis Fleming (knee) are all out.

Dele Adebola has recovered from illness and Kit Symons and Noel Whelan have both been playing with injuries and will continue, while Dougie Freedman is back in contention after passing a fitness test on his calf.

Sheffield United hope Peter Ndlovu shows no after-effects following African Nations Cup action with Zimbabwe.

Warnock's team will not include influential midfielder Michael Brown who is banned after picking up ten bookings.

Nick Montgomery could feature for the Blades after a scan showed no lasting damage to his ankle, while Stuart McCall remains hopeful of being fit to play after recovering from ankle trouble.

Derby v Norwich

Derby striker Lee Morris is sidelined by a sciatic nerve problem which was affecting the 22-year-old's back and hamstring.

Midfielder Rob Lee will also miss the game while serving a suspension but frontman Fabrizio Ravanelli has recovered from flu and Simo Valakari, previously ostracised by currently suspended manager John Gregory, is poised to play under interim boss George Burley.

Norwich strike duo Paul McVeigh and David Healy return to the squad for the trip to Derby after both featured for Northern Ireland in midweek.

Craig Fleming (foot) and Phil Mulryne (hip) are still some way off making a return to action, while Alex Notman (ankle) made his first competitive start in more than six months for City's reserves in midweek.
Ipswich v Nottingham Forest

Ipswich striker Darren Bent is ruled out by a hamstring injury and Denmark

Under-21 defender Thomas Gaardsoe (groin) is also struggling to be fit.

Striker Alun Armstrong continued his recovery from a wrist problem by completing 75 minutes of the reserve team's 1-1 draw with Tottenham in midweek, but is not yet ready for inclusion.

Forest boss Paul Hart has no injury worries - the only selection poser faced by Hart is whether or not to recall veteran defender Des Walker.

The 37-year-old former England international has not played a first-team game in over two months after suffering a torn quad muscle in his left thigh but has played two comeback games for the reserves.
Leicester v Grimsby

Leicester midfielder Alan Rogers is in boss Micky Adams' plans after recovering from a hamstring problem.

Matt Jones (ankle) is out and striker Brian Deane continues to nurse a troublesome hamstring, while suspension rules out Billy McKinlay and Paul Dickov - although the latter is recovering from a hernia operation.

Grimsby player-boss Paul Groves is confident captain John McDermott (hamstring) and midfielder Richard Hughes (ankle) will be available.

Striker Michael Boulding, who is back to fitness after a spell on the sidelines with an ankle injury, has an outside chance of playing.

New loan signing Michael Keane is expected to make his debut in midfield - but Stacy Coldicott (broken leg) and Darren Barnard (shoulder) remain out of action.

Preston v Coventry

Preston will be without a trio of knee-injury victims - Ricardo Fuller, Colin Murdock and George Koumantarakis.

Manager Craig Brown must decide between Simon Lynch and Pawel Abbott to partner Richard Cresswell up front.

Michael Jackson continues to struggle with a back problem, and Jonathan Gould's groin strain is likely to keep him sidelined.

Coventry's sole fitness doubt is midfielder Youssef Safri and he will face a fitness test on a groin problem before travelling.

Wide man Gary McSheffrey is available once again after a one-game suspension, while 17-year-old former academy midfielder Tom Bates has been called up into the first-team squad.
Sheffield Wednesday v Wimbledon

Sheffield Wednesday manager Chris Turner welcomes back Alan Quinn and Shefki Kuqi following international duty with the Republic of Ireland and Finland squads respectively.

Striker Lee Bradbury plays the final match of his month-long loan spell before returning to Portsmouth.

Darryl Powell could return after hamstring trouble, although Jon Beswetherick is suspended.

Trond Andersen is rated doubtful for Wimbledon with a bruised foot. Jermaine Darlington (knee), Jobi McAnuff (hip), Lionel Morgan (knee), Mikele Leigertwood (ankle) and Damien Francis (ankle) are sidelined.

Moritz Volz misses the game through illness - but Nigel Reo-Coker should play despite a recent groin problem and academy graduates Dean Lewington and Nico Herzig, who signed professional contracts this week, are added to the squad.
Stoke v Gillingham

Stoke manager Tony Pulis welcomes back striker Lee Mills, who has been out of action since March 8 after suffering from shoulder and rib injuries sustained in a car crash.

New signings Ade Akinbiyi and Paul Warhurst will also be vying for a place in the first-team line-up after agreeing loan deals from Crystal Palace and Bolton respectively.

Midfielder James O'Connor begins a two-match suspension.

Nicky Southall (hamstring) is set to return for Gillingham, while Barry Ashby (hamstring) and Mamady Sidibe (international duty) are also back.

Goalkeeper Jason Brown is rated 50-50 with a shoulder problem, but Hessenthaler has ruled himself and Mark Saunders out with hamstring strains.
Walsall v Portsmouth

Walsall boss Colin Lee is forced into wholesale changes with goalkeeper James Walker and midfielders Martin O'Connor, Carl Robinson and new signing Jamie Lawrence all suspended.

Former Stoke goalkeeper Gavin Ward is likely to come in for Walker but Lee will delay naming his line-up until he checks on the fitness of defender Danny Hay, who is returning after more than a month out with a shoulder injury.

Portsmouth are sweating on top scorer Svetoslav Todorov who picked up an ankle injury on international duty with Bulgaria and is rated doubtful.

Defender Arjan De Zeeuw is expected to miss out for the leaders with an ankle ligament problem and Nigel Quashie returns to the squad after a dead leg.
Wolves v Rotherham

Wolves striker George Ndah - recently sidelined by hamstring troubles and a stomach virus - is poised to return, as is fellow frontman Nathan Blake, who had also been affected by illness.

Central defender Joleon Lescott has also been given the all-clear to play despite niggling groin and knee injuries and long-term knee-injury victim Mo Camara could be included in the squad for the first time since the opening day of the season.

Martin McIntosh and Guy Branston are both suspended meaning Rotherham are without a recognised centre-back to partner Chris Swailes.

Shaun Barker is expected to move across to join Swailes with John Mullin switching from his recognised midfield role to right-back.

Midfielder Curtis Woodhouse returns after a hamstring injury while Gareth Farrelly is also fit again.

Striker Mark Robins has declared himself fit after an ankle injury sustained in training.
Peterborough v Swindon

Peterborough will be without the suspended Jason Lee for the home game with Swindon.

He starts the first of a two-game ban following his sending off for violent conduct in the recent goalless draw with Tranmere.

Helgi Danielsson returns to the squad following international duty with Iceland Under-21s, while David Farrell boosted his chances of a recall by scoring a hat-trick in the reserves' 5-0 win over Brentford.

Swindon may switch back to a 3-5-2 formation after their three-man attack of Sam Parkin, Danny Invincibile and Eric Sabin failed to spark in last Saturday's defeat at Colchester.
Oldham v Barnsley

Oldham are waiting on the fitness of goalkeeper Les Pogliacomi ahead of the home game against Barnsley.

Pogliacomi damaged his back against Port Vale last week and is still in a lot of pain.

Clint Hill returned to reserve-team action this week after four months out with a broken leg but is still short of first-team match fitness.

Carlo Corazzin is back from international duty with Canada, while Tony Carss (knee) and John Eyre (thigh) are hopeful of being fit.

Barnsley hope that Bruce Dyer will be fit after being restricted in training because of a chest problem.

Paul Gibbs and Chris Lumsdon are expected to play after recovering from groin and hamstring injuries respectively, although Rory Fallon and Carl Barrowclough remain on the sidelines.
Cardiff v QPR

Cardiff manager Lennie Lawrence is likely to be without Neil Alexander for the home date with QPR.

He is suffering from a virus and groin strain sustained on international duty with Scotland.

Martyn Margetson is set to deputise, while Steve Jenkins should again fill in for Rhys Weston, who is struggling with illness.

QPR have been bolstered by the return from injury of several players.

Tommy Williams is back in full training after suffering another ankle injury and Matthew Rose is pushing for a starting berth after a substitute appearance in the 3-1 win at Blackpool.

Dennis Oli came through a reserve run-out this week after recovering from a knee ligament injury, and Ben Walshe is also close to a comeback from knee trouble.
Huddersfield v Chesterfield

Huddersfield have four key injury doubts for the crucial clash with Chesterfield.

Chris Holland (calf), Dwayne Mattis (Achilles), Martin Smith (thigh) and Eddie Youds (head gash) are all struggling to be fit.

Smith's absence in particular would be a massive blow for the Terriers, but Machin is "confident" he will be fit.

Loan signing Brian Close is definitely out of the Chesterfield side after sustaining a thigh strain playing for Northern Ireland Under-21s while Rob Edwards looks likely to miss the rest of the season after tearing his hamstring.

Stuart Howson (ankle) and Marcus Ebdon (hernia) are still out of the reckoning and hris Brandon is rated as "doubtful" by Rushbury.

Caleb Folan (groin) will be given until the last minute to prove his fitness although the Spireites welcome back Carl Muggleton after being on the sidelines since December with a fractured arm.
Luton v Tranmere

Sammy Igoe will make his Luton debut against Tranmere after signing on a one-month loan from Reading on transfer deadline day.

Chris Willmott (knee) and Alan Kimble (ankle) both played the full 90 minutes for the reserves against Colchester and could rejoin the squad, while Emmerson Boyce could also be back (groin).

Tranmere have doubts over Jason Price and Shane Nicholson.

Price faces a late fitness test on a troublesome hamstring injury, while Nicholson hurt a knee in training.

Stuart Barlow's groin injury keeps him on the sidelines and Alan Navarro is unlikely to play again this season despite returning to training this week following knee surgery.
Plymouth v Colchester

Marino Keith will lead the Plymouth attack against Colchester at Home Park.

Keith has hit seven goals in six games, including the only goal in the 1-0 win at leaders Wigan.

Nathan Lowndes and new non-contract signing Kieran McAnespie, both outstanding in the reserves in midweek, come into the squad.

Us manager Phil Parkinson welcomes back Alan White after the defender missed the last two games through suspension, with Johnnie Jackson possibly moving into midfield.

White's return goes some way to compensating for the loss of Joe Keith, who will not play again this season due to a knee ligament injury sustained in last weekend's victory over Swindon.

Parkinson is also unable to call upon the services of Adrian Coote, whose hip injury prevented him playing for the reserves in midweek, while Simon Brown remains sidelined by a groin problem.
Brentford v Cheltenham

Brentford have no new injury worries ahead of the game against Cheltenham.

Kevin O'Connor and Ibrahima Sonko are expected to rejoin the squad after returning from international duty, and Jamie Fullarton is also back in contention after five weeks out with a leg injury.

Mark Peters is the only absentee through suspension.

Cheltenham welcome back Grant McCann and Duff brothers Michael and Shane from international duty.

Long-term casualties Richard Forsyth (hamstring), Richard Walker (thigh) and Lee Howells (broken leg) are not expected to feature again this season
Wycombe v Stockport

Michael Simpson returns from suspension for Wycombe's home game against Stockport, but Steve Brown is serving a one-match ban.

Chris Vinnicombe could be added to the squad for the first time in five months but will not start following his groin problems.

Stuart Roberts is back in training following an ankle problem, while Richard Harris is also doubtful with a calf injury.

Stockport welcome back Jim Goodwin and Jon Daly from international duty.

The pair were involved in the Republic of Ireland Under-21s' games against Georgia and Albania, keeping them out of County's 1-0 defeat at Crewe last week.

Kevin Ellison, recently recovered from an ankle injury, may feature if he shakes off the knock sustained playing for the reserves in midweek.

But Rob Jones will play no part as his move from Gateshead went through after the transfer deadline.
Mansfield v Port Vale

Mansfield have new injury worries ahead of their Field Mill clash with Port Vale.

Rhys Day faces a late fitness test after failing to shake off a knee injury, and Iyseden Christie reported a hamstring twinge during training.

Liam Lawrence serves the first of a two-game suspension, but Junior Mendes, who has been struggling with a calf strain, is expected to be in the squad.

Port Vale manager Brian Horton could receive a double boost.

Michael Walsh has returned to training after missing last week's 1-1 draw with Oldham because of flu and resumes his place in the squad.

Steve Brooker also missed the Latics trip with a groin injury and will be given a late fitness test.
Notts County v Blackpool

Danny Allsopp has been pencilled in for a Notts County return against Blackpool.

A hamstring problem has ruled Allsopp out of action since mid-February but Magpies boss Bill Dearden confirmed the striker returned to training this week and could be on the bench.

Steve Mildenhall has been ruled out by thumb ligament damage, while midfield pair Paul Bolland and Michael Brough are doubts with groin and knee problems respectively. Simon Ramsden is suspended.

The Seasiders manager Steve McMahon is set to keep faith with most of the side that lost 3-1 against Queens Park Rangers.

John Murphy and Keith Southern are unavailable as McMahon has sent them for operations after the defeat, which realistically ended any hopes the Seasiders had of forcing their way into the play-off picture.

Ben Thornley and Tommy Jaszczun could come into contention after hamstring and ankle worries respectively, while Matthew Blinkhorn and Jamie Burns remain in the squad as McMahon looks to plan for next season

This is always a fierce local derby, but when both sides are risking relegation it takes on another dimension entirely.

Brescia have taken the upper hand so far this season and are almost safe from the drop following a 14-match unbeaten run. Roberto Baggio is struggling with minor injury worries, but should be able to start.

Last year the Divine Ponytail netted a hat-trick in this fixture and continues to hone his rapport with strike partner Luca Toni. New Under-21 international Marco Pisano is suspended, so Dario Dainelli steps in.

Atalanta clambered out of the bottom four thanks to their surprise 1-0 win over Chievo, but the situation remains desperate. Cristiano Doni has not lived up to expectation this year and the injuries to Fausto Rossini, Gianni Comandini, Davor Vugrinec and Inacio Pia’ have taken their toll. The Croat should be back for this game, but Rossini remains sidelined.

Brescia: (Probable) Sereni; Martinez, Petruzzi, Dainelli; Schopp, Appiah, Guardiola, Matuzalem, Seric; Baggio, Toni

Atalanta: (Probable) Taibi; Siviglia, Natali, Sala, Zauri; Zenoni, Berretta, Dabo, Doni; Pinardi, Vugrinec

Chievo need a victory to get back on track following a run of poor results, but Udinese are on cloud nine after their win over Inter.

The Flying Donkeys have hit a glass ceiling and despite a strong start to the campaign, have faltered when it comes to aiming for those European spots. The absence of Massimo Marazzina, sold to Roma during the January transfer window, has cut their options upfront and goals have been hard to come by.

Udinese are the revelation of the season and a victory at the Stadio Bentegodi could well allow them to challenge for that UEFA Cup spot currently held by Chievo. A disappointing March was concluded with a confident victory over Inter and that result will surely have boosted morale.

David Pizarro is the creative force inside their solid midfield and will be the one to watch alongside Chievo’s own dynamo Eugenio Corini. Simone Perrotta will also be boosted following his fine performance in Italy’s 2-0 win over Finland last week.

Udinese have had injury problems all season, but the situation is deteriorating in the run-up to this match. Carsten Jancker is no closer to solving his hip worries, while Gemiti suffered a thigh strain during international duty. Mirko Pieri is also not 100 per cent fit, but Martin Jorgensen should be able to start.

Chievo: (Probable) Lupatelli; Moro, Legrottaglie, D’Anna, Lanna; Luciano, Perrotta, Corini, Della Morte; Bjelanovic, Cossato

Udinese: (Probable) De Sanctis; Bertotto, Sensini, Kroldrup; Jankulovski, Pinzi, Pizarro, Jorgensen, Manfredini; Muzzi, Iaquinta

Familiar faces fill the San Siro as Gabriel Batistuta takes on his former club, while Azzurri partners Francesco Totti and Christian Vieri are up against each other.

The Nerazzurri had the opportunity to catch Juventus at the top of the table, but a sluggish 2-1 defeat at Udinese brought back painful memories of throwing last year’s Scudetto away at the death. Hector Cuper is under increasing pressure to make his side more creative and less reliant on individual performances, as their team play leaves something to be desired.

Alvaro Recoba and Christian Vieri have sat out their Champions’ League bans, so a rest may be needed ahead of the quarter-final clash with Valencia. Gabriel Batistuta also appears to have lost his lustre and is finding difficulty in hitting the target. He can surely have no greater motivation than facing the club he left in a blaze of bitterness just three months ago.

However, the Argentine may have to make way for his countryman Hernan Crespo, who has finally recovered from a torn thigh muscle suffered in early January. It is unlikely the former Lazio man will start the match, but he should make an appearance.

There are also critics who believe Recoba cannot be squeezed into a 4-4-2 formation on the left, while the return of Emre Belozoglu from injury cannot come soon enough for Cuper.

Roma have their own problems to contend with as the next two months will be make or break time for theclub. Failure to qualify for Europe, or even the Intertoto Cup, will throw their finances into disarray and perhaps see the sale of their top stars.

The Giallorossi have perhaps the toughest run-in of them all as they must face Inter, Parma, Juventus, Milan and Chievo before the end of the season. To make matters worse, Roma historically have a very poor run of results in the San Siro and will need something special to emerge with points.

Francesco Totti’s stunning form for Italy last week gave hope to all Roma fans, but Antonio Cassano is a doubt with a minor thigh strain. Marco Delvecchio also impressed in the 2-0 win over Finland and should again take that wide midfield role that has become his own.

Inter: (Probable) Toldo; J Zanetti, Cordoba, Cannavaro, Coco; Conceicao, Di Biagio, C Zanetti, Emre; Recoba Vieri

Roma: (Probable) Antonioli; Cufre’, Panucci, Samuel, Lima; Cafu, Emerson, Dacourt, Delvecchio; Totti, Montella

Familiar faces fill the San Siro as Gabriel Batistuta takes on his former club, while Azzurri partners Francesco Totti and Christian Vieri are up against each other.

The Nerazzurri had the opportunity to catch Juventus at the top of the table, but a sluggish 2-1 defeat at Udinese brought back painful memories of throwing last year’s Scudetto away at the death. Hector Cuper is under increasing pressure to make his side more creative and less reliant on individual performances, as their team play leaves something to be desired.

Alvaro Recoba and Christian Vieri have sat out their Champions’ League bans, so a rest may be needed ahead of the quarter-final clash with Valencia. Gabriel Batistuta also appears to have lost his lustre and is finding difficulty in hitting the target. He can surely have no greater motivation than facing the club he left in a blaze of bitterness just three months ago.

However, the Argentine may have to make way for his countryman Hernan Crespo, who has finally recovered from a torn thigh muscle suffered in early January. It is unlikely the former Lazio man will start the match, but he should make an appearance.

There are also critics who believe Recoba cannot be squeezed into a 4-4-2 formation on the left, while the return of Emre Belozoglu from injury cannot come soon enough for Cuper.

Roma have their own problems to contend with as the next two months will be make or break time for theclub. Failure to qualify for Europe, or even the Intertoto Cup, will throw their finances into disarray and perhaps see the sale of their top stars.

The Giallorossi have perhaps the toughest run-in of them all as they must face Inter, Parma, Juventus, Milan and Chievo before the end of the season. To make matters worse, Roma historically have a very poor run of results in the San Siro and will need something special to emerge with points.

Francesco Totti’s stunning form for Italy last week gave hope to all Roma fans, but Antonio Cassano is a doubt with a minor thigh strain. Marco Delvecchio also impressed in the 2-0 win over Finland and should again take that wide midfield role that has become his own.

Inter: (Probable) Toldo; J Zanetti, Cordoba, Cannavaro, Coco; Conceicao, Di Biagio, C Zanetti, Emre; Recoba Vieri

Roma: (Probable) Antonioli; Cufre’, Panucci, Samuel, Lima; Cafu, Emerson, Dacourt, Delvecchio; Totti, Montella

The Turin derby is always a dangerous occasion for the Bianconeri and they could not have picked a worse time to meet Torino.

Juventus comfortably won this fixture 4-0 earlier this season and will be clear favourites to take the points again. However, the leaders are showing signs of strain and after six consecutive victories succumbed 2-1 at Milan. It is crucial from a psychological viewpoint to get back on track as soon as possible and a derby win is always good for morale.

Alessandro Del Piero has been working on his fitness after two months out with a thigh strain and should be able to start this match alongside David Trezeguet. Pavel Nedved is their most in-form player and it is safe to assume the Toro defence will reserve some heavy treatment for the Czech international.

Torino will need a miracle to avoid relegation, but a shock derby victory would go some way to appeasing the disgruntled fans. This is their first game at the Stadio Delle Alpi since receiving a five-match home ban for crowd trouble, but as Toro are the away side it can be played in Turin.

The arrival of new Coach Renato Zaccarelli has boosted their confidence and his influence has so far gathered two wins and two defeats, but with markedly stronger performances.

Veterans Marco Ferrante and Luca Bucci are back on form and they fought back to earn a surprise 2-1 win over Perugia a fortnight ago. The fine performance of Carlos Marinelli in that game could see the ex-Boro man given a start in place of the disappointing Cristiano Lucarelli.

Juventus: (Probable) Buffon; Thuram, Ferrara, Montero, Zambrotta; Camoranesi, Tacchinardi, Davids, Nedved; Del Piero, Trezeguet

Torino: (Probable) Bucci; Galante, Fattori, Mezzano, Sommese, De Ascentis, Donati, Vergassola, Castellini; Marinelli, Ferrante

Lazio must improve their home form to consolidate their Champions’ League spot, but may face a difficult test against born-again Como.

The Biancocelesti have lost only one match on their travels in all competitions this season, but the Stadio Olimpico seems to cut into their confidence and subsequent results. Coach Roberto Mancini recently tested a new central defensive position for battling midfielder Diego Simeone and it is an option we could see this week.

Como had a disastrous first half of the season, but in recent weeks their form has picked up considerably. It may be too late to save them from the drop, but the 5-1 demolition of Bologna certainly sent out a signal to all future opponents. This team is not dead and buried.

Little remains of the squad that earned two consecutive promotions and only now have the players become accustomed to one another. Nicola Amoruso is making quite an impact, but the real danger man will be Vedin Music.

Lazio man Nikola Lazetic started the season at Como before moving on to Chievo and then towards Rome, so he may feature in this encounter. Both teams like to play down the wings, so we ought to see an intriguing match.

Lazio: (Probable) Peruzzi; Stam, Couto, Mihajlovic, Favalli; Fiore, Giannichedda, Stankovic, Cesar; Corradi, Lopez

Como: (Probable) Ferron; Juarez, Padalino, Stellini; Rossi, Allegretti, Pecchia, Corrent, Music; Amoruso, Caccia

Milan have cut the gap to five points, but their title ambitions must pass through the Stadio Tardini.

A disappointing couple of months saw Carlo Ancelotti’s men slide back down the standings, but the 2-1 victory over Juventus brought back points and enthusiasm. Over the break Serginho, Massimo Ambrosini and Kakha Kaladze worked on their fitness and all three should be ready for this showdown.

The more players at his disposal, the more pressure Ancelotti comes under to change his tactics. The system with Andriy Shevchenko and Pippo Inzaghi together worked wonders against Juve and may well be replicated here, leaving the off-form Rivaldo on the bench.

Serginho’s return could change matters once more as he brings precious width to the team that too often tries to go through the middle with Manuel Rui Costa.

Parma are also hot on the heels of their prime target – the fourth Champions’ League spot – and were on top form before the break for international duty.

Adrian Mutu and Emanuele Filippini return from suspension, having missed the crucial 2-1 win over Lazio, to support former Inter striker Adriano. The Gialloblu have so far had a few problems dealing with the big clubs, losing at home to Juventus, Inter and Chievo, but their history against Milan is a comforting one.

Parma: (Probable) Frey; Bonera, Cardone, Ferrari, Junior; Nakata, Lamouchi, Barone, Filippini; Mutu, Adriano

Milan: (Probable) Dida; Simic, Nesta, Costacurta, Maldini; Rui Costa, Gattuso, Pirlo, Seedorf; Shevchenko, Inzaghi

This is an Intertoto Cup play-off, but the loser could risk sliding back into the danger zone as Serie A reaches its most crucial stage.

Perugia continue to hover in-between the European spots and the relegation battles, mainly thanks to a disastrous run of results away from home. The Stadio Curi is their fortress and not many teams have emerged from here with points this season. Fabrizio Miccoli is returning to form and will hope to have a good run at the rather slow Bologna defence.

The Rossoblu are in a crisis and following their humiliating 5-1 defeat at Como were pelted with eggs during a training session. The disgruntled fans demand more from their side and all but ordered Coach Francesco Guidolin to field Beppe Signori from the start.

However, it was the absence of Julio Cruz in that Como game that made the difference. The Argentine has sat out his one-match ban and is back in action, but as Bologna have not won on their travels in over a year, the supporters are not too hopeful of a positive result.

Michele Paramatti steps in for the suspended Giulio Falcone, but Tomas Locatelli is in doubt with an injury. It will be a special occasion for former Perugia captain Renato Olive, a figure who has never been forgotten in this city.

Perugia: (Probable) Kalac; Di Loreto, Viali, Milanese; Ze Maria, Tedesco, Obodo, Blasi, Grosso; Miccoli, Vryzas

Bologna: (Probable) Pagliuca; Zaccardo, Paramatti, Castellini; Nervo, Amoroso, Olive, Colucci, Bellucci; Cruz, Signori

Just one point separates these two teams on the cusp of the relegation zone and we can certainly expect a fierce battle.

Reggina have constructed their season on impressive home form, but a dismal record on their travels means that the club still lies inside the bottom four. Failure to pick up all three points in this game will put the Amaranto under real pressure ahead of difficult games with Chievo, Parma, Roma, Juventus and Bologna.

Shunsuke Nakamura returns to the line-up after international duty, but must fight for a place with Francesco Cozza and Gianluca Savoldi. Their season has been turned around by the arrival of January signing Emiliano Bonazzoli, so the Under-21 international will be the one to watch. Goalkeeper Emanuele Belardi returns from suspension.

Empoli would slip back into the relegation zone with a defeat here and cannot seem to find consistency from one game to the next. Antonio Di Natale’s knee injuries have been devastating and forced continual team reshuffles. He should be fit to start this crucial match as part of the trident supporting lone striker Marco Borriello. Fabrizio Ficini steps in for the suspended Flavio Giampieretti.

Reggina: (Probable) Belardi; Jiranek, Vargas, Franceschini; Diana, Cozza, Paredes, Nakamura, Falsini; Di Michele, Bonazzoli

Empoli: (Probable) Berti; Belleri, Cribari, Pratali, Cupi; Grella, Ficini; Rocchi, Cappellini, Di Natale; Borriello
Injury worries for Bayern

A plethora of injury worries should not stop Bundesliga leaders Bayern Munich moving closer to yet another crown when they visit mid-table Hanover 96 on Saturday. Follow all Bundesliga games LIVE on eurosport.com from Saturday - 15:30cet!

Coach Ottmar Hitzfeld has six players sidelined but it will take more than that to slow down Bayern in their march towards an 18th German title.

The Munich club, reduced to chasing domestic silverware since their Champions League exit, are a massive 15 points ahead of second-placed champions Borussia Dortmund with eight league games left.

Paraguay striker Roque Santa Cruz added his name to Bayern's long injury list when he hurt his knee in training on Wednesday.

Also missing are playmaker Michael Ballack, fellow midfielders Jens Jeremies, Hasan Salihamidzic and Mehmet Scholl and striker Alexander Zickler.

Hanover, though, should not be taken too lightly. Last season's second division champions held Bayern to a 3-3 draw in Munich this season and have lifted themselves up to 10th in the 18-strong table with a good run.


Germany defender Jens Nowotny and striker Ulf Kirsten are just two of several players out injured for last season's runners-up Leverkusen, who are struggling against relegation. In-form Hertha, set for a place in Europe next season, will be without Dutch defender Dick van Burik and Brazilian striker Luizao.


Midfielder Joerg Heinrich and defender Christoph Metzelder are both out injured for Dortmund, whose main aim is to consolidate their Champions League berth. Werder, who are still on course for a UEFA Cup spot despite a shaky run since the winter break, have two valued players suspended in Dutch defender Frank Verlaat and Hungarian midfielder Krisztian Lisztes.


Defensive players Tomas Ujfalusi and Bernd Hollerbach return from injury for Hamburg, who will be almost at full strength. Bielefeld, by contrast, have plenty of players injured with midfielder Michael Sternkopf and striker Ilija Aracic among the casualties.


Macedonia striker Sasa Ciric returns from injury to help Nuremberg in their fight against relegation. Former Belgium captain Marc Wilmots, who took over the coaching duties at Schalke last week, misses several players through injury or suspension.


Little Cottbus, who managed goalless draws the last two times they played Stuttgart, seem to be on their way back to the second division after three campaigns in the top flight. Bulgaria playmaker Krassimir Balakov is suspended for Stuttgart, who are hoping for a top three finish and a place in at least the qualifying round of the Champions League.


Bochum have everybody on board for this important battle in their fight against relegation. Kaiserslautern, who have been docked three points for next season for breaching licensing rules, have moved up to mid-table with a strong run but are not safe yet.


Rostock, who have never won at home to Wolfsburg in the Bundesliga, need points to stay away from the relegation zone. Wolfsburg enter a new era after former Germany midfielder Stefan Effenberg said on Thursday he was leaving the club and ending his Bundesliga career following repeated run-ins with new coach Juergen Roeber.


TSV, who stand only an outside chance of a UEFA Cup spot, have no injury worries. They have won five of their last six home games against Moenchengladbach, who miss injured strikers Arie van Lent and Joris van Hout.
Crunch time at the Riazor

Real Sociedad have no intention of ceding the title to league leaders Real Madrid, but on Sunday they face a fight with Deportivo Coruna just to keep hold of second place in the Spanish first division (kickoff 19:30cet).
Raynald Denoueix's Sociedad, who led the table for most of the first half of the season, dropped three points behind Real after conceding two injury-time goals to draw 2-2 at home to Villarreal last time out.

With Real facing relegation-threatened neighbours Rayo Vallecano at the Bernabeu, another slip-up for Sociedad could see the European champions open up a six-point lead with 10 matches to go until the end of the season.

"It is a game to help decide the league title," Sociedad striker Darko Kovacevic told reporters on Thursday. "Both of us are aiming for the title and whoever wins will gain an important advantage, although it won't be decisive."

Deportivo, who fell victim to the finishing power of Zinedine Zidane and Ronaldo in their 2-0 defeat away to Real Madrid two weeks ago, are now six points behind the leaders but coach Javier Irureta is refusing to throw in the towel.

"There is still a long way to go yet and we are still aiming for the top prize," the Depor boss said earlier this week. "Everything will depend on how strong we are between now and the end of the season."

As well as the battle for second place in the table, the clash at the Riazor also throws up a fascinating duel between two of the most effective strikers in the Spanish league.

Deportivo's Dutch international striker Roy Makaay leads the scoring charts with 20 goals, while Sociedad's target man Kovacevic is in second spot with 15.

The Serbian's inspirational team mate Valery Karpin is a doubtful starter for Sunday's match because of a thigh strain, but otherwise both sides are close to full strength for what promises to be an absorbing encounter.

ESPANYOL (15) v CELTA VIGO (5) 20:30cet

Two wins in a row have helped Celta move to within three points of the final Champions League berth. But the Galicians will face a tough match against Javier Clemente's Espanyol who have pulled a point clear of the relegation zone after putting together a four-match unbeaten run.

REAL BETIS (8) v VALENCIA (4) 20:00cet

Reigning champions Valencia have now gone four games without a win and a 1-1 draw against Espanyol last time out has left them four points adrift of Deportivo in fourth. A similar fate has befallen an injury-hit Betis, who have slipped out of the UEFA Cup contention after failing to win in their last in five outings.

REAL MADRID (1) v RAYO VALLECANO (19) 18:00cet

With one eye on Tuesday's Champions League quarter-final against Manchester United, Real coach Vicente del Bosque is likely to rest Luis Figo, Claude Makelele and Ivan Helguera, who all have minor injury niggles sustained on international duty. But Ronaldo, who has had muscle fatigue problems, is likely to play against Real's relegation-threatened neighbours. Argentine internationals Esteban Cambiasso and Santiago Solari should get a rare run out in midfield.

VILLARREAL (14) v BARCELONA (9) 19:45cet

Barcelona have gone seven matches unbeaten since Radomir Antic took over as coach two months ago and are now just three points adrift of a UEFA Cup berth. The Catalan side's much-maligned strike force rediscovered their scoring touch with a 6-1 crushing of Racing Santander at the Nou Camp a fortnight ago, but should face tougher opposition against a well-organised Villarreal side.

ALAVES (18) v REAL MALLORCA (10) 16:00cet

Alaves have been dragged into the relegation battle after failing to record a win in their last five outings and will need to plug their leaky defence if they are to stop Mallorca's recent revival.


The two sides fought out a thrilling 3-3 draw when they met earlier in the season and, given their unpredicatable recent form, anything could happen when they face each other at San Mames. Defender Aitor Karanka, midfielder Bittor Alkiza and striker Ismael Urzaiz are all available for Bilbao after recovering from injury, but in-form winger Joseba Etxeberria is a doubt after picking up a knock while on international duty.

OSASUNA (16) v MALAGA (12)

Now that their UEFA Cup dream had been ended, Malaga can concentrate on the more mundane business of ensuring they are not drawn into the danger zone with a defeat against relegation-threatened Osasuna. Prolific strikers Dario Silva and Dely Valdes are doubtful starters for the Andalucians.


Sevilla have proved to be the surprise team of the season. Basing their tactics around a street-wise defence, Joaquin Caparros's side have climbed steadily up the table and are now bidding for a place in next season's UEFA Cup. Four defeats in a row, including a 6-1 drubbing at the hands of Barcelona, have set the alarm bells ringing at Racing and they will have to produce a convincing performance at the Sardinero if they are to win over their disenchanted fans.


Cup finalists Recreativo have shown that they are determined to put up a fight to avoid the drop, but they remain rooted to the bottom of the table despite a five-match unbeaten run. Opponents Valladolid cannot afford to relax either as they are still only three points clear of the relegation zone.
Lens v Strasbourg: Preview


LENS, April 4 (Ligue 1) - When Lens and Strasbourg met earlier in the season Strasbourg came out on top after one of their most impressive performances of the season so far.

On Saturday Lens will be looking to avenge that 2-0 defeat and prove that it was merely a blip in proceedings.

``Strasbourg played a very good game and we were well beaten but that's all the more reason for us to show them that it wasn't the real Lens they beat that day,'' said striker Antoine Sibierski.

Lens have been forced into a change in defence with the injury to Polish international Jacek Bak in Poland's midweek win over San Marino.

His absence opens the door for Papus Camara to play alongside Rigobert Song at the heart of the Lens' defence.

They are also without the injured Cyril Rool, Adama Coulibaly and Abdoulaye Faye.

Strasbourg have got to get their season back on track having taken a dismal nine points from their last 10 games.

They will have to do this without Valery Ismael who has been dropped after a succession of below-par performances.

``Valery is capable of playing a great game but during the last few games he's not performed as well. He'll benefit from these few days off to come back better for the Nantes game,'' said manager Ivan Hasek.

Hasek has called up Habib Beye following his two-month lay-off and has also added reserve players Cedric Moukouri and Fabrice Viau to the squad.

Jean-Christophe Devaux is suspended.
Sochaux v PSG: Preview


SOCHAUX, April 4 (Ligue 1) - Just one point separates Sochaux and PSG as they meet at the Auguste-Bonal stadium on Saturday in a match which could catapult the winner into a genuine challenge for the title.

Sochaux are fifth and PSG are three points further back in seventh, but the compact nature of the top of the Ligue 1 table means both are still on the periphery of the championship race.

Sochaux have surprised many with their rise to fifth this season but it could be fruitless if they take their foot off the accelerator at this late stage, especially as the title is not the only prize on offer.

The two top sides in Ligue 1 qualify for the Champions League group stage, while the third-placed side also wins a place in the third qualifying round. Spots in the UEFA Cup are also up for grabs.

Sochaux`s Benoit Pedretti wants his side to carry the momentum forward but playing two games for France in the last week has put his body under strain.

``The tiredness of the accumulation of games is starting to kick in. It may even be affecting us mentally. Fortunately though, we're playing a big game which should be enough to motivate us in itself,'' he said.

PSG filled the two-week void created by the international programme by playing a friendly against Spanish side Athletic Bilbao.

Jerome Leroy and Jose Aloisio scored as the French team won 2-0 and both are expected to play on Saturday, with Ronaldinho having returned from international duty with Brazil to join the squad in training on Thursday.

The only absentees from training were Andre Luiz and Lionel Letizi, both of whom are likely to miss out on Saturday's trip, which otherwise sees Luis Fernandez pick from a full squad of players.
Sedan v Montpellier: Preview


SEDAN, April 4 (Ligue 1) - In arguably the most important game of the day at the foot of the Ligue 1 table, Sedan host Montpellier with both sides in desperate need of three poin
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