ANDREW VORCE - Friday, April 9, 2010
A date in the FA Cup final is at stake for Brad Friedel and Aston Villa while Jozy Altidore and Hull need a big three points versus Burnley.
Aston Villa - Chelsea
Brad Friedel and Aston Villa will have a point to prove when the Villans meet up with Chelsea in the FA Cup semi-final at Wembley Stadium.
The two squads met two weeks ago, with Brad Friedel conceding a grand total of seven times in a 7-1 thrashing at Villa Park. The Villans will have a full squad with the expection of Nigel Reo-Coker who is on the verge of return with an ankle injury.
Chelsea haven't lost a game since being knocked out of the Champions League, scoring 15 goals and only conceding three. A quartet of Chelsea players could see a return in the coming weeks, with Joe Cole leading the forefront.
Also returning and hoping to make an impact is Michael Essien, just in time for the world cup. Ricardo Carvalho is near the end of his ankle injury, while Branislav Ivanovic looks to make a quick recovery from his MCL knee ligament injury.
Hull - Burnley
Jozy Altidore and Hull City are in desperate need of three points when Burnley come to KC Stadium.
Hull could have a trio of players return, with George Boateng, Liam Cooper, and Stephen Hunt all in the mix. Anthony Gardner is still a week out, while Kamil Zayatte has two weeks left for his knee injury. Ian Ashbee and Amir Zaki are both long term absentees.
Burnley are in a similar position, three points behind 19th placed Hull. Stephen Jordan having a chance at making the bench after recovering from a knee injury. Chris McCann is not so lucky, out indefinitely with a MCL knee ligament injury, while Christian Kalvenes has left the club after canceling his contract.
West Ham - Sunderland
Jonathan Spector and West Ham need to create some breathing room between them and the bottom three and will be eyeing a home win over a hot and cold Sunderland.
The players have not helped themselves, with eight out injured. Valon Behrami, Keiron Dyer, and James Tomkins are all very doubtfull, while James Collins, Guillermo Franco, and Heirita Ilunga are not expected fit until the middle of next week. Zavon Hines and Luis Boa Morte are both out long term.
John Mensah and Andy Reid could play a part for Sunderland, but all eyes will be on Darren Bent who looks to score his way into England's World Cup squad. Lorik Cana is rated as very doubtful after picking up a groin strain, while a hamstring injury keeps George McCartney on the sidelines.
Wolverhampton - Stoke
Marcus Hahnemann and Wolverhampton Wanderers will be forced into making one change ahead of the visit of Stoke City.
Karl Henry was sent off in last weekends 1-0 loss to Arsenal, forcing a change in the midfield. Wolves will only be without Michael Kightly, and so Mick McCarthy will have a full squad.
Stoke have also had a good run of games, and could get Salif Diao back after the midfielder has been sidelined with a calf muscle strain. James Beattie is fighting to get a fit as a knee injury could end his season.
Watford - Plymouth
Only a victory will do for Jay DeMerit and Watford who welcome in Plymouth on Saturday at Vicarage Road in Watford.
DeMerit will look to assume his normal spot on the Hornets' back line and look to give the hosts a big lift towards staving off relegation.
Currently tied on points with Frank Simek's Sheffield Wednesday, Watford has zero margin for error and will require a solid effort in front of their home fans.
American Kenny Cooper will hope to see some minutes off the bench for the visitors who could get a big boost towards reaching the safety with a win.
Watford's Tom Cleverley is out with knee ligament damage and will be joined in the stands by suspended players Jon Harley and Henri Lansbury.
Lloyd Doyley, Will Buckley, Martin Taylor and Heidar Helguson will all be gametime decisions for the Hornets.
The Pilgrims will be missing Kari Arnason, Krisztian Timar and full-back David McNamee.
Norwich City - MK Dons
Zak Whitbread and Norwich City aim to inch closer to promotion when they host MK Dons on Saturday at Carrow Road.
Whitbread got his first start with the Canaries in their midweek victory over Stockport County. It was his first start since joing the club in mid-season from Millwall.
The Texas native will hope to get the call again for the League One leaders who boast a nine point advantage over second place Swindon Town.
Fraser Forster, Luke Daley and Jens Berthel Askou will be the absentees for Norwich.
MK Dons are without a slew of players among them: Stephen Gleeson, Peter Leven, Mat Doumbe, David McCracken, Sean O`Hanlon, Willy Gueret, Lewis Gobern and Sam Baldock.
Exeter City - Leyton Orient
Another 90 minute performance looks to be in the cards for Aston Villa loanee Eric Lichaj as the American will join Leyton Orient in a trip to St. James Park to take on Exeter City.
The O's are staring right in the face at relegation and will require a win over the Grecians to help alleviate fears of playing in League Two next season.
Lichaj has been starting from right back since joining Orient but may see a switch to left back due to the injury and suspension situation that the club faces.
The match will also mark Russell Slade's first game in charge for the O's.
Sean Thornton and Jonathan Tehoue are out for the visitors while Exeter will be missing Richard Logan, Adam Stansfield and possibly Rob Edwards.
Wycombe Wanderers - Hartlepool United
Striker Jon-Paul Pittman and relegation bound Wycombe welcome in Hartlepool to Adams Park on Saturday in League One action.
Wycombe is all but destined to be playing in league Two next season could add some misery to Hartlepool's fan base with a win over the Money Hangers.
The Blues are in the midst of an eight match winless streak not having registered a victory since a 1-0 win over promotion hopefuls Millwall back in February.
Julian Kelly, Alan Bennet, Leon Johnson, Lewwis Spence and Ian Westlake are out with injuries for the hosts while Hartlepool have a full squad.
Clint Dempsey is out injured as Fulham travel to Liverpool.
Some minutes off the bench may be in store for Sheffield Wednesday's Frank Simek when the Owls visit Middlesborough.
Devann Yao will struggle to make the gameday roster for Ipswich who visit Nottingham Forest.
Mike Grella will be looking for second half minutes when Leeds host Southend United.
Seb Harris may see time off the bench for Northampton Town who host Notts County on Saturday.