FA CUP weekend got off to a shock start with Man United’s draw at League Two Cambridge.
Luckily my cards tip came up but the 0-0 was a good warning for punters ahead of a tough weekend.
Team news is crucial when considering bets and here’s what I’ve gathered.
Birmingham v West Brom
Lloyd Dyer is expected to make his Birmingham debut against his former club after signing on loan from Watford for the rest of the season. Defender Gavin Gunning (knee) is a long-term absentee but Jonathan Spector is available after a torn thigh muscle.
Albion’s Silvestre Varela has joined Parma, Sebastian Blanco is set to move to San Lorenzo and Georgios Samaras is expected to complete a switch to Al-Hilal. Youssouf Mulumbu is on African Nations Cup duty, Jason Davidson is at the Asian Cup and Jonas Olsson (Achilles) is not match fit.
Blackburn v Swansea
Blackburn expect to have Crystal Palace target Rudy Gestede in their squad. Loanee Alex Baptiste does not have permission to play but fellow full-back Tommy Spurr (groin) could be involved as he bids to make his first senior appearance of the season. Rovers have no other injury doubts and could turn to Simon Eastwood in goal again after he got the nod over Jason Steele in round three.
Kyle Naughton stands by to make his Swansea debut but Wayne Routledge (calf) misses out and skipper Ashley Williams (shoulder) is set to be rested. Ecuador winger Jefferson Montero is in contention after a month out with hamstring trouble and Jonjo Shelvey has completed a ban, with manager Garry Monk preparing to make several changes after the home defeat to Chelsea.
Cardiff v Reading
Bluebirds defender Scott Malone (ankle) is a doubt, meaning Matt Connolly and John Brayford could continue as makeshift full-backs. Boss Russell Slade has also hinted at a new midfield role for Manchester United loanee Fabio who has not started a game since December 20.
Left-back Jure Travner and on-loan Chelsea striker Nathaniel Chalobah are in the Reading squad and club captain Jem Karacan should be on the bench after a long-term knee injury but midfielder Hope Akpan (shoulder) is unlikely to be risked and defender Anton Ferdinand (calf) is struggling.
Chelsea v Bradford
Captain John Terry is to be rested for Chelsea, with Kurt Zouma starting in defence. Andre Schurrle will also be in the side after Jose Mourinho dismissed reports of a move for the World Cup winner. The Portuguese has no injury concerns and plans to select a senior side with some rotation ahead of Tuesday’s Capital One Cup semi-final second leg with Liverpool.
Bradford striker Billy Clarke is in contention after a knee injury but on-loan goalkeeper Jordan Pickford is ineligible having been refused permission to play by parent club Sunderland – Ben Williams steps in. Brad Halliday and Francois Zoko figure after their respective loans from Middlesbrough and Blackpool were extended, while Matty Dolan and Andrew Davies are fit.
Derby v Chesterfield
Derby boss McClaren is expected to make changes with the likes of keeper Kelle Roos, defenders Lee Naylor and Ryan Shotton, midfielders Jeff Hendrick, Simon Dawkins and Ivan Calero and strikers Mason Bennett and Darren Bent all options. New signings Stephen Warnock and Raul Albentosa could figure after an ankle injury and international clearance issues respectively.
Chesterfield winger Gary Roberts will be out for around six weeks with a hamstring injury – it is thought the 30-year-old’s absence will open the door for either Dan Gardner or Jay O’Shea to come back into the starting line-up. Emmanuel Dieseruvwe drops out of the squad once more as the on-loan Sheffield Wednesday striker is ineligible.
Liverpool v Bolton
Reds captain Steven Gerrard could be rested. With the Capital One Cup semi-final second leg at Chelsea on Tuesday Gerrard, who missed the win at Aston Villa with a tight hamstring, is likely to drop to the bench. Midfielder Jordan Rossiter will be involved, while defender Glen Johnson, midfielder Joe Allen and striker Mario Balotelli all returned to training this week.
Bolton are set to start with former Liverpool striker Emile Heskey in attack following Craig Davies’ latest hamstring setback. Midfielder Lee Chung-yong has a hairline fracture of his leg which rules him out but Zach Clough (hamstring) may feature. Joe Mason has returned to Cardiff and Marc Tierney (ankle), Mark Davies and Max Clayton (both knee) remain absent.
Man City v Middlesbrough
Former England midfielder Frank Lampard is a doubt for City with a hip injury sustained in the warm-up of the midweek friendly against Hamburg in Abu Dhabi. Playmaker Samir Nasri (calf) is set to be out for at least another fortnight while midfielder Yaya Toure is at the African Nations Cup.
On-loan Chelsea defender Tomas Kalas (ankle) is a doubt for Boro. Former England defender Jonathan Woodgate is in contention but Emilio Nsue is on African Nations Cup duty and Ryan Fredericks (thigh), Muzzy Carayol, Damia Abella (both knee) and Rhys Williams (Achilles) are out.
Preston v Sheff Utd
Thorsten Stuckmann looks set to return in goal for Preston with recent loan recruit Sam Johnstone cup-tied. Winger Kyel Reid (knee) could feature but the attacking trio of Andy Little (groin), Jordan Hugill (knee) and Joe Garner (shin) remain long-term absentees for the Lilywhites, who have permission to feature loanees Paul Gallagher and Jermaine Beckford.
Blades boss Nigel Clough is expected to make changes following the Capital One Cup first-leg loss at Tottenham. Striker Jose Baxter and defenders Craig Alcock and Terry Kennedy made way at White Hart Lane but could return to action as Clough looks to utilise his squad. Clough must also decide whether to stick with Chris Basham, Ryan Flynn and teenage midfielder Louis Reed.
Southampton v Crystal Palace
Saints’ Toby Alderweireld, Victor Wanyama (both hamstring) and Morgan Schneiderlin (adductor) are two weeks away from a return. Sam Gallagher and Jay Rodriguez remain long-term absentees, while Maya Yoshida, Sadio Mane and Emmanuel Mayuka have international commitments.
Palace boss Alan Pardew has a fully fit squad with Marouane Chamakh available after a hamstring injury. The only two absentees are Yannick Bolasie and captain Mile Jedinak, who are away on international duty.
Sunderland v Fulham
Black Cats midfielder Lee Cattermole remains on the sidelines with a combination of groin and knee injuries, and defender Wes Brown (knee) and winger Adam Johnson (calf) are likely to join him. However, central midfielder Liam Bridcutt is available after a ban and striker Jermain Defoe is in line for his home debut after making his first appearance for the club at Tottenham last weekend.
Scott Parker suffered a knock in the win over Nottingham Forest but boss Kit Simons may have opted to rest his 34-year-old captain for the tie anyway. Fellow midfielder Lasse Vigen Christensen (hamstring) is set to miss out again and defender Sean Kavanagh (knee) is doubtful. Full-backs Fernando Amorebieta (knee) and Tim Hoogland (hernia) are pencilled in for returns next month.
Tottenham v Leicester
Spurs’ club-record signing Erik Lamela has been absent for nearly a month with a calf injury but is in line to feature against the Foxes. Nacer Chadli remains absent on compassionate grounds while fellow midfielder Nabil Bentaleb is away on international duty with Algeria.
Midfielders Esteban Cambiasso (hip) and Dean Hammond (calf) are back in contention for Leicester, who are without the suspended Matty James. Keeper Kasper Schmeichel and Matt Upson (both foot) are out, while striker Chris Wood is doubtful with ankle trouble.
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