Thursday 14 February 2013
Chelsea skipper John Terry is back in the Blues squad for their UEFA Europa League last-32 first leg contest against Sparta Prague on Thursday evening.
The 32-year-old centre half missed Saturday's defeat of Wigan Athletic with a knee injury but has travelled to the Czech Republic.
However, David Luiz (suspended), Demba Ba (ineligible), Victor Moses and John Obi Mikel (only just returned from Africa Cup of Nations duty) are all unavailable for the match.
Sparta, who have not played competitively since early December, are unbeaten in 11 European home matches and former player and now Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech is expecting a tough contest.
"Our players are motivated to do well in this competition"
"They recently signed David Lafata, who has been the top scorer in the Czech Republic for the past two seasons, as well as Roman Bednar, who used to play for West Bromwich Albion," Cech told the club’s website.
"They will have options, and they are a team with a good blend of young, hungry players and experienced ones. For them, it will be the biggest game of their careers, so that's a danger because they will want to show they can do well against us."
Tottenham Hotspur are at home to French side Lyon in their first leg match and manager Andre Villas-Boas has confirmed that Brad Friedel will be named between the sticks.
Striker Emmanuel Adebayor will lead the line in the absence of the injured Jermain Defoe while Sandro and Younes Kaboul remain sidelined.
"It's a difficult tie against a team that is very, very experienced and have many trophies in the bag," Villas-Boas told the Spurs website. "They also have a lot of experience in the Champions League.
"It's a big game and there is big motivation. Our players are motivated to do well in this competition and they know that if they beat Lyon, it will serve as further inspiration for the rest of the tournament."
Liverpool travel to Zenit St Petersburg without the ineligible Daniel Sturridge and Philippe Coutinho but otherwise manager Brendan Rodgers has a virtually full-strength squad to choose from.
Steven Gerrard, Luis Suarez, Jose Reina and Jamie Carragher have all travelled with Rodgers saying he will be looking to name a strong team.
"I want to go in as strong as we can," he told the club's website. "I think we're on the down slope now - we've only got 12 games in the league and hopefully we can progress in the Europa League. We'll be looking to go strong."
"We've got a squad that's so much bigger"
Newcastle United will be without striker Yoan Gouffran for their home match against Metalist Kharkiv because of the injury he suffered in Saturday's League match at Tottenham.
Hatem Ben Arfa (knee) remains sidelined and Sammy Ameobi is out with a hamstring problem.
"Although we know we're still in a situation where we need to win Premier League games, it gives us a little bit of breathing space to attack this competition which we've always had in our mind that we could do that," manager Alan Pardew told the club's website.
"We left it late to win two out of the last three but at least we got there in the end. It gives us a platform, and we've got a squad that's so much bigger. Even if we had some injuries now, we can cover them whereas before we didn't have that luxury. So we can enter the rest of this competition with a strong hand."