ANDREW VORCE - Friday, January 1, 2010
Brad Guzan should get the start for Aston Villa and Jozy Altidore looks to impress in the FA Cup, as a full slate of English games are on the table in the New Year.

Aston Villa - Blackburn

Brad Guzan should get a start for Aston Villa as Brad Friedel's former club Blackburn come to Villa Park.

Villa have had the benefit of few injuries, and are on the cusp of having a trio back in action; Wilfred Bouma, Craig Gardner, and Emile Heskey are in their last week of recovery, while Curtis Davies is out for two more weeks with a dislocated shoulder.

Rovers have a similar luxury, with a trio of their own expected back in two weeks. David Dunn has been out with a calf muscle strain, while a groin strain has kept Brett Emerton out. Vince Grella is the final piece, as he struggles with a thigh muscle strain.

Wigan - Hull

Jozy Altidore will look to start again as Hull take on Wigan in the FA Cup, with the home team looking to bounce back from a midweek defeat.

Altidore went just under an hour in Hull's 2-2 draw at Bolton, while Wigan were thumped by Premier League Champions Manchester United. Chris Kirkland has been suffering with a virus, but Mohamed Diame is still out with an MCL Knee injury.

Steven Mouyokolo and Paul McShane should shake off hamstring injuries, while Jimmy Bullard has another month on his MCL knee injury. Ian Ashbee is out until May with a PCL tear in his knee.

Fulham - Swindon

Clint Dempsey will look for a easy pass into the FA Cup fourth round as League One Swindon comes to Craven Cottage.

Dempsey may be rested for the encounter but the London club have a number of injuries. John Pantsil sustained a knee injury in Fulham's last game, ruling him out of traveling to the African Cup of Nations. Brede Hangeland should return from a calf injury. Seol Ki-Hyeon, Simon Davies, and Diomansy Kamara are all still a week out from returns.

Swindon's biggest threat comes in the form of Charlie Austin who has scored seven goals in seven games, scoring in Swindon's 3-1 victory over Yeovil. Striker Lloyd Macklin is still recovering form a leg fracture, but should make the bench.

Everton - Carlisle

Tim Howard will continue in goal as League One Carlisle come to Goodison Park as Everton continue to have injury problems.

The Toffees list 10 players on the injured list, with Luis Saha the only probable inclusion. There is light on the horizon, with six players expected back in full training within the next week. Victor Anichebe, Tim Cahill, Sylvan Distin, Dan Gosling, Jo, and Joseph Yobo are all expected back, while Phil Jagielka and Jack Rodwell should make returns by the end of the month. Mikel Arteta is out until March with an ACL knee injury.

Carlisle will have Joe Anyinsah, Marc Bridge-Wilkinson, and Paul Thirlwell back in their line up Anyinsah was out with a hip injury, while Bridge-Wilkinson has had a knee injury. Thirlwell was the only other injury concern, being out with an Achilles problem.

Landon Donovan has officially joined the Blues on a ten-week loan spell and could be available to suit up for his first English appearance.

West Ham - Arsenal

Jonathan Spector is expected to start against fellow London club Arsenal as Herita Ilunga went down in their last match.

West Ham have been hit with injuries, listing nine injuries. Ilunga is one of five with hamstring injuries, with Keiron Dyer, Daniel Gabbidon, Mark Noble, and Scott Parker joining him. Luis Boa Morte, Carlton Cole and Zavon Hines are out with knee injuries, while Calum Davenport are out with hip injuries.

Arsenal are just as injury hit, including the African players no longer at their disposal. No players will be making a return from the sidelines for the FA Cup clash, with Nicholas Bendtner, Cesc Fabregas, and Theo Walcott the closest to a return at the end of January.

Kieran Gibbs is out with a broken foot, while Gael Clichy and Denilson have back injuries. Robin van Persie and Johan Djourou are both out for the long haul, Van Persie out with a sprained ankle and Djourou with a knee injury.

Tranmere - Wolverhampton

Marcus Hahnemann should retain senior keeping duties for Wolverhamton Wanderers as the Premier League club travels to League One outfit Tranmere Rovers.

Wolves are without five first-team players, With two out until the tenth. Christophe Berra is out with a concussion, while Matt Murray is on the tail end of a knee injury. Michael Kightly can return at the end of the month from an ankle injury, but both David Edwards and Andy Keogh are out until March.

Alan Mahon is out with an ankle injury, while Bas Savage is out with an Achilles injury. Marlon Broomes should continue at center back, meaning Ash Taylor will be pushed out of the defense.

Sheffield Wednesday - Crystal Palace

Frank Simek should be fit for his second Crystal Palace game of the season, which is where he sustained his first injury that laid the defender out for over a year.

Wednesday earned a vital point against League leaders Newcastle in their last outing, with Simek going 90 minutes. Interim Head Coach Sam McAuley looks to use the same line up, with only Tommy Miller being out of contention with a hamstring problem.

Palace will have Claude Davis back in the heart of defense after a one-match ban, but Danny Butterfield may be out with a hamstring injury. He visitors will have a void to fill up top as West Ham youngster Freddie Sears was recalled after his loan spell at the club.

Chelsea - Watford

Jay DeMerit will continue in the heart of the Watford defense as the Hornet's Premier League ambitions will be put to the test as they travel to Stamford Bridge.

Don Cowie was forced out of the Peterborough game due to illness, which also kept Nathan Ellington out of action. Ross Jenkins and Craig Cathcart are both suffering from knee injuries, and will face a stint on the sidelines.

Chelsea are prime for the picking with virtually a new squad shuffling in. Didier Drogba will be the most sorely missed, as he joins Michael Essien, Saloman Kalou, and Job Obi Mikel will also be joining the tournament. Deco is out with a groin strain, while Nikolas Anelka is out with a hamstring injury. Jose Bosingwa is the last player out, suffering from a knee injury.

Wycombe - Norwich

Jon-Paul Pittman will look to inspire Wycombe to a weekend victory over fellow League One outfit Noriwch.

Wycombe have allowed nine goals in two games, only amassing two goals in their last outing. Norwich are on the other side, sitting in third place, three points adrift number two. Wycombe will be without Lewis Montrose with a knee injury, while Leon Johnson has a hip injury.

Gary Doherty will slot back into the Norwich defense, who has three goals in his last three outings. Jens Berthel Askou is out with a foot injury, with Luke Daley, Owain Tudor-Jones, and Declan Rudd all out. Korey Smith is the last Norwich player out, suffering from a thigh problem.


Mike Grella will be on the bench as Manchester United host Leeds.

Zak Whitbread is out injured for Millwall who host Derby.

Jemal Johnson is out injured as Milton Keynes Dons welcome Burnley.

Seb Harris will be on the bench for Northampton as they travel to Bournemouth.
Friday January 1, 2010 7:59 pm
Opportunities galore. Spector vs. Nasri? Altidore trying to get on the score sheet? Demerit with a moment to shine against Chelsea's Terry? This is a massive weekend in a prestigious tournament.

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