PREVIEW: WEEKEND ENGLISH ACTION
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ANDREW VORCE - Friday, April 16, 2010
Jozy Altidore and Brad Friedel both have must win games for two very different reasons as a English action is in the final stretch throughout the leagues.

Blackburn - Everton

Tim Howard and Everton will look to get back on winning ways when the Toffees travel to Ewood Park to face Blackburn.

Everton could have Mikel Arteta back in time for the trip with the influential midfielder being sidelined with a groin strain. Toffee youngster Dan Gosling is out until Christmas time next year, with Marouane Fellaini is out until August.

Lars Jacobsen and Yildiray Basturk are in a race against time to be fit for the weekend, but will likely return next week. Jacobsen has been out with Gilmores Groin, while Basturk has been out with a hamstring injury.

Fulham - Wolverhampton

Clint Dempsey is out with a thigh muscle strain as Marcus Hahnemann and Wolverhampton come to Craven Cottage.

Fulham could be without David Elm, who has been under the weather and forced out of training. Dempsey is out for an uncertain amount of time, with time running out ahead of the World Cup. Andy Johnson will miss the tournament, however, due to a knee injury.

Wolves have a full line up ahead of the trip to the capital, with Michael Kightly being the only exception. Kightly has had an injury set back, and is now recovering from an ankle injury. They must keep an eye behind them though, only sitting six points from safety from relegation.

Birmingham - Hull

Jozy Altidore will be pushing for a start ahead of Hull's crucial weekend game away at Birmingham.

Joe Hart has kept Birmingham in prime position, sitting in ninth ahead of the weekend. Lee Carsley will likely be out, possibly fit for the bench, after struggling with an ankle injury. Garry O'Connor and David Murphy are both eyeing returns at the beginning of May.

Hull top the injured list for the Premier League, with seven players out of contention. Liam Cooper could return in midweek action, while Andy Dawson, Anthony Gardner, and Kamil Zayatte are all out for another week. Ian Ashbee is nearing a return from his PCL tear, while Amr Zaki and Stephen Hunt are out for the long haul.

Portsmouth - Aston Villa

Brad Friedel and Aston Villa will have their eyes on all three points as Portsmouth may be forced to play a stronger squad than their last outing.

Avram Grant was criticized for his squad selection in Portsmouth's 0-0 draw at Wigan, but any hope at a chance against Villa would surely be a longer shot. Pompey will still be without Nadir Belhadj and Tal Ben-Haim for another few days, while Danny Webber and Hermann Hreidarsson are out until November.

Villa have exactly opposite fortunes going their way, all except the end product. Martin O'Neal has a full squad ahead of the visit, and will be poised to take all three points if his squad is firing on all cylinders.

Watford - Leicester City

Jay Demerit and Watford will play in a pivotal game against Leicester City and continue their fight to avoid relegation.

Watford is coming off of a crucial win in the midweek over Kenny Cooper's Plymouth. The Hornets are three points from the relegation zone and cannot afford to let up with games dwindling in the season.

Demerit again played the whole game and is expected to captain the Hornets in their important game this weekend.

Leicester City are currently in a playoff spot and a win will get them all the much closer for an opportunity to play in the Premier League next year. The Foxes beat lowly Peterborough United last weekend.

Leicester's Lloyd Dyer is hoping to return from injury, while the same goes for Alex Bruce, who returned last week but did not receive playing time.

The Hornets will be without on-loan Manchester United player Tom Cleverley, who is out for the season. Full-back Lloyd Doyley and midfielder Will Buckley could be out with hamstring injuries.

Plymouth - Newcastle United

Plymouth Argyle and Kenny Cooper will host promotion bound Newcastle United in a Monday night matchup.

The Pilgrims are currently pitted in the relegation zone and will need to maximize their points for any chance of seeing Championship action next season. With games running out, Plymouth's game against Newcastle is a must win.

Cooper came on to Plymouth's midweek game against Watford in the 89th minute. The American has received minimal playing time since arriving on-loan from 1860 Munich, but he hopes to find the field in this pivotal game.

The Magpies need just one point to clinch the title and will surely want to finish the deal against Plymouth. Newcastle comes into the game having not lost since February 9th, and will prove to be a huge challenge for the Pilgrims.

Plymouth's Carl Fletcher is questionable for this game with a knee injury. Winger Craig Noone is out also with a knee injury while Kari Arnason will miss with a bad hip. Krisztian Timar and full-back David McNamee are sidelined with hamstring injuries.

Newcastle could be without defender Fabricio Coloccini, who left the midweek game with an injury. Tamas Kadar could be out with a hamstring injury.

Leyton Orient - Stockport County

After an impressive win against Norwich City, Eric Lichaj and Leyton Orient take on Jemal Johnson's Stockport County this Saturday.

The midweek win for the O's has them four points from the relegation zone. They will need to build upon that win in order to play in League One next season.

Lichaj has enjoyed plenty of playing time since arriving on loan from Aston Villa, and should feature again this Saturday.

Stockport County lost again in the midweek and are relegated. American Jemal Johnson came on in the 72nd minute in Stockport County's midweek loss.

They will be without midfielder Greg Tansey, who injured his thigh and will be out for the rest of the season.

Leyton Orient's Jonathan Tehoue could be out the rest of the season with a hamstring injury.

Wycombe Wanderers - Milton Keynes Dons

Striker Jon-Paul Pittman and Wycombe Wanderers play Milton Keynes Dons this Saturday.

Wycombe are looking at relegation and League Two football next season, but will hope to give its fans something to cheer about this weekend.

Pittman started and played 66 minutes for Wycombe in their midweek win against Tranmere. The American hopes for another start against MK Dons.

MK Dons hopes of making the playoffs are all but faded, but they hope to end their season playing well and hope for a win against Wycombe. During the week, MK Dons tied Oldham Athletic.

The Wanderers should be without Leon Johnson who is out with a knee injury and Ian Westlake because of an ankle problem.

The Dons' Peter Leven will complete his suspension after picking up his 10th booking of the season and will thus be out of the lineup. Stephen Gleeson and Sam Baldock are nursing knee injuries and likely to be sidelined.

Notes:

Stuart Holden's Bolton faces off against Stoke City.

Frank Simek will hope for some playing time off the bench as Sheffield Wednesday host Sheffield United.

Devann Yao will hope to make the gameday roster for Ipswich, as they take on the Doncaster Rovers this Saturday.

Mike Grella will be looking for time off the bench when Leeds plays Gillingham.

Seb Harris could see playing time for Northampton Town who are away at Rochdale on Saturday.
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