PREVIEW: WEEKEND ENGLISH ACTION
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ANDREW VORCE - Friday, May 7, 2010
Clint Dempsey will look to regain match fitness before Fulham's Europa League final next week, while Mike Grella and Eric Lichaj both needs win to secure their teams' respective promotion or safety in the closing day in England.

Aston Villa - Blackburn

Brad Friedel and Aston Villa will be keeping an eye on fifth place to ensure that the club has a spot in the Europa League next season, and need a win at home to Blackburn.

Liverpool are in seventh and are secure to qualify for the Europa League thanks to Portsmouth's ineligibility, but Villa are only two points ahead of the northwest giants and will see a finish ahead of the five-time European champions as a consolation for a season in which they'd held Champions League aspirations.

Manchester City currently hold a two-point cushion over Villa, but a slip up could see Villa rise to fifth.

Fabian Delph and Curtis Davies are the only two injured for Villa, while El-Hadji Diouf is definitely out for Blackburn. Steven Nzonzi and Nikola Kalinic could both make returns for Rovers, who look to break into the top half of the Premier League on the final day.

West Ham - Manchester City

Jonathan Spector and West Ham will have the joy of playing for pride when Manchester City come to Upton Park on the final day.

West Ham's bench will be short of five stars on final day with James Collins, Kieron Dyer, James Tomkins and Zavon Hines are all out until the end of June. Heirita Ilunga can be expected back to full fitness at the end of the month, but will play no role in the final home game of the season.

City have a list of casualties but may have Stephen Ireland and Julian Lescott back for the trip. Gareth Barry is suffering from a hamstring injury and is likely to be rested but Stephen Taylor and Martin Petrov are out until the end of the month. Shay Given and Michael Johnson are both long term absentees.

Wolverhampton - Sunderland

Marcus Hahnemann and Wolverhampton Wanderers will simply be playing for league positioning when on fire Sunderland come to Molineux.

Sunderland are guaranteed 13th place at worst and could overhaul Blackburn and Fulham with a win. The visitors have been on and off over their last few games, giving up three against Liverpool before taking it to Tottenham 3-1.

Sunderland will be without Lee Cattermole and D Meyler, but G McCartney could make a return. Andy Reid will be fully fit next week, while John Mensah eyes the end of the month for full fitness.

Wolves could have Stephen Ward and Matty Jarvis back for their last home game of the season. Hahnemann and company fell 3-1 in an open game against Portsmouth. Much of the same is expected when the Black Cats come to town, but Michael Kightly is out of the picture with an ankle injury.

Arsenal - Fulham

Clint Dempsey and Fulham have only pride to play for as two London clubs go head to head at Emirates Stadium.

Damien Duff is the latest Fulham injury worry, only lasting 45 minutes against Stoke City in midweek action. Duff joins striker Bobby Zamora on the sidelines, with both men working against the clock to be fit for the Europa League final next week. Andy Johnson will miss due to a knee injury.

Arsenal goalkeeper Manuel Almunia could not get back any sooner as the Gunners' back line has been shambolic in his absence. Thomas Vermaelen and Cesc Fabregas will be back next week, while Denilson will be fit at the end of the month along with William Gallas. Aaron Ramsey is out for the long haul.

Everton - Portsmouth

Tim Howard and Everton have done everything they can in their 2010 campaign and will finish in eighth place regardless of the result against Portsmouth.

The bottom of the league club was the first team to be relegated but have enjoyed a remarkable resurgence quality play as a result. Nadir Belhadj, Tal Ben Haim, Jamie O'Hara, and Ricardo Rocha all have an outside chance of suiting up, but Danny Webber and Heidar Hreidarsson are both out until November.

Everton could get Johnny Heitinga back from an ankle injury, while Marouane Fellaini is out until August. Toffee favorite Dan Gosling has been sidelined until December with an ACL knee injury.

Leeds United - Bristol Rovers

Mike Grella and Leeds United take on the Bristol Rovers in a pivotal game this Saturday.

Leeds is currently in second place and a win will secure an automatic promotion to the Championship next season. A loss and they may have to navigate the promotion play-offs, where they have failed in each of the previous two seasons.

Grella came off the bench to play the final minutes of their painful loss to Charlton Athletic last weekend. The American will hope to get playing time and help his team get promoted.

Leeds United could be without defender Ben Parker who is suffering from a calf injury.

Bristol Rovers are coming off a 3-0 loss to Norwich City and will hope to finish the season on a high note by winning this weekend.

Rovers' Dominic Blizzard is suffering from a hamstring injury while defender Steve Elliott has medial ligament damage.

Leyton Orient - Colchester United

Eric Lichaj and Leyton Orient end their season against Colchester United this Saturday.

Orient won a pivotal game last week against Wycombe and will need to do the same versus Colchester to assure themselves League One soccer next season. They only find themselves three points above the relegation zone coming into this weekend's game.

Lichaj should once again start for Orient. The American has enjoyed consistent playing time since arriving on loan from Aston Villa and will want to end his time with Orient on a high note.

Colchester United are coming off a 2-1 loss to Huddersfield Town and have no chance to make the final play-off spot. Nevertheless, they will want to finish with a win this Saturday.

Orient will once again be without Jonathan Tehoue who is out with a hamstring problem.

Colchester's Ashley Vincent is out with an ankle injury while fellow midfielder John-Joe O'Toole has a cruciate problem. Franck Quedrue will try to suit up despite a nagging hamstring injury.

Wycombe Wanderers - Gillingham

Jon-Paul Pittman and the Wycombe Wanderers take on Gillingham this Saturday.

Wycombe have already been relegated but will look to finish off their League One season on a high. The Wanderers lost 2-0 last week to Leyton Orient.

Pittman played 70 minutes for the Wanderers in their loss to Orient and has enjoyed consistent playing time this season. The American has scored seven goals this season and recorded two assists.

Wycombe's Lewis Montrose was hurt in their loss last weekend and could miss this Saturday's game. Adam Hinshelwood and Leon Johnson are both suffering knee injuries while Ian Westlake has a troublesome ankle.

Gillingham are currently only two points above the relegation zone and will need to win to ensure League One soccer next season. They won last weekend 2-1 over Southampton.

Notes

Jozy Altidore's season is already finished due to a red card suspension as Hull take on Liverpool.

Stuart Holden could be fit for Bolton and will likely appear as a sub against Birmingham.

Zak Whitbread will hope to suit up for Norwich's last game of the season against Carlisle United.

Jemal Johnson and relegated Stockport County take on the Trammere Rovers.

Seb Harris and Northampton Town will finish off their season at home versus Bury.
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