PREVIEW: MIDWEEK ENGLISH ACTION
Clint Dempsey will feature in a Premier League game on Tuesday evening, while Brad Guzan is expected be involved in the Carling Cup semi-final action against Blackburn.
Stoke City - Fulham
Clint Dempsey will likely play the 90 minutes as the Cottagers travel to the Potteries to play an important Premier League game.
Fulham are currently ninth in the standings, and have a striker on a great goal-scoring run. Bobby Zamora has scored six goals in his last eight appearances, and has eleven for the season thus far.
Stoke are ranked twelfth, only three points clear of the relegation places, and are having problems with netting goals from strikers, which is highlighted by the fact that winger Matthew Etherington is their top scorer this season with four.
The Potters have been playing poorly as of late, and have not won in their last six league games. They will be encouraged though by the visitors' inability to win on the road, as the Cottagers have yet to win in their eight league outings away from Craven Cottage.
John Pantsil sustained a knee injury in Fulham's last game, also ruling him out of traveling to the African Cup of Nations. Brede Hangeland should return from a calf injury. Simon Davies with a foot injury plus Diomansy Kamara and Seol Ki-Hyeon suffering with knee injuries are all still a week out from returns.
Ryan Shawcross will return to Stoke's lineup after serving a one-match suspension, and Abdoulaye Faye will return to partner him in defense after missing the FA Cup game against York City. Goalkeeper Thomas Sorenson injured a finger on Saturday, and Stoke will hope he recovers in time for the game.
Blackburn Rovers - Aston Villa
Brad Guzan will likely keep the goalkeeper's starting jersey as Villa travel to Ewood Park to play the first of a double-header to decide who will play the winners of the Manchester United versus Manchester City contest in the Carling Cup Final at Wembley Stadium. The team lifting the cup of the competition will get an automatic berth in next season's Europa League.
The Villans won the first of three games in 13 days between the two teams last Saturday, as they prevailed 3-1 in the third round of the FA Cup at Villa Park. This is no real guide as for what to expect on Tuesday night, though, as Martin O' Neil made seven changes to his lineup and Sam Allardyce made nine, both head coaches focusing on the opportunity to qualify early for European competition.
The visitors have won six of the last encounters between the teams, including three of their last four visits to Ewood Park. The hosts have drawn four of their last five outings in all competitions, losing the other.
Wilfred Bouma with an ankle injury and Craig Gardner with a back injury are in their last week of recovery, while Curtis Davies is out for two more weeks with a dislocated shoulder. There are also doubts over Fabian Delph who is ill and James Milner who has a foot injury.
Rovers have a similar luxury, with a duo of their own expected back in two weeks. A groin strain has kept Brett Emerton out while Vince Grella has been struggling with a thigh muscle strain. They will however be without forward El-Hadji-Diouf who starts a three-game suspension after being sent off on Saturday.