PREVIEW: WEEKEND ENGLISH ACTION
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JOHN KRETLOW - Friday, March 8, 2013
Brad Guzan and Eric Lichaj hope to lead Aston Villa to victory in their relegation battle with Reading, while Geoff Cameron, Brek Shea, and Stoke City look to get back to winning ways when they take on Newcastle United.

Reading - Aston Villa

Brad Guzan, Eric Lichaj, and Aston Villa take on Reading in a pivotal relegation zone battle.

Guzan is expected to start for the Villains, while Eric Lichaj hopes to see time.

Villa is looking to snap out of their funk, as they have just won one game in their last eleven. They find themselves in the relegation zone, but three points could bolster them to safety.

Reading is also in a difficult spot, as they are also in the drop zone and trail Villa by a point in the standings. After having a strong start to the calendar year, Reading has lost three straight games and will need three points on Saturday.

Jimmy Kebe and Adam Federici are likely scratches for Reading, while Villa could make changes in their lineup for an offensive spark.

Newcastle United - Stoke City

Geoff Cameron and Brek Shea look to help Stoke City get back to winning ways when they take on Newcastle United at St. James' Park.

The former Houston Dynamo star did not play in the Potters last game, but he could be inserted back into the lineup this weekend. Shea has made a couple of substitute appearances since arriving at Stoke and could see time once again on Sunday.

Stoke has just won one game in their last nine league matches. Their place in the standings has plummeted since their skid began, as they find themselves now in 11th place and nine points above the bottom three.

Newcastle is in 15th place and six points above the drop zone. They have lost two out of their last three league games and need three points to separate themselves from the relegation zone.

Robert Huth is suspended for the Potters and will miss.

Everton - Wigan Athletic

Tim Howard hopes to make Everton's lineup in their FA Cup 6th round match against Wigan Athletic.

Howard missed last week's win over Reading, a rarity for the American international. He suffered a back injury against Oldham Athletic, but could return this weekend.

Despite the Toffees strong place in the Premier League standings, Everton has struggled of late. They did have a strong win over Reading last week, but had gone three games winless prior in league competition.

Wigan is in 17th place in the Premier League, just goal differential ahead of Aston Villa in the drop zone. The lone bright spot in Wigan's year though has been the FA Cup and they look to continue their run with a win at Goodison Park.

Bristol City - Middlesbrough

Seb Hines and Middlesbrough look to jump into a playoff position with a win at Bristol City.

Boro has hit a rough patch of late, having lost three out of four games. They are currently out of a playoff position, trailing Brighton & Hove Albion by two points for the last spot.

Bristol City is in the bottom of the Championship standings and three points from safety. They are though on a three game unbeaten run and hope to add to that momentum with a victory this weekend.

Jonathan Woodgate looks to miss for Boro, while Kieron Dyer could return to the lineup.

Birmingham City - Derby County

Jonathan Spector and Birmingham City host Conor Doyle's Derby County in a Championship clash.

Spector is expected to start for the Blues, while Will Packwood is out for the season with a leg injury and will not feature.

Conor Doyle has not seen the field lately, but the American forward is likely to make the game day roster for the Rams.

The Blues go into this weekend's match having won just one game in their last six. They will want three points as they are just five points above the drop zone.

Similarly, Derby has struggled of late. The Rams have gone winless in their last seven games and are in 12th place.

Carlisle United - Brentford

Frank Simek is expected to start in Carlisle United's home game against Brentford.

The Cumbrians are coming off a midweek draw at Crawley Town. Simek and company have gone six games winless and are just six points above League One's bottom three.

Brentford is coming off a loss to Stevenage, but they are currently in a playoff position. They have won the last two matchups between them and Carlisle and they hope to continue that streak this weekend.

Notes

Clint Dempsey is questionable to feature because of injury in Tottenham's match against Liverpool.

Stuart Holden and Tim Ream look to help Bolton in their game against Brighton & Hove Albion.

Zak Whitbread hopes to see time in Leicester City's match against Sheffield Wednesday.

Mike Grella hopes to feature in Scunthorpe United's game with Coventry City.

Jon Paul Pittman and Oxford United take on Torquay United in League Two play.
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