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Friday, August 20, 1999 Published at 16:26 GMT 17:26 UK

Villa hope to end Chelsea jinx

Gregory hopes a summer of continental fixtures will help at Chelsea

Aston Villa manager John Gregory believes his side's only taste of European football this season will help his team end a three-game losing streak against Chelsea on Saturday.

Gregory's team were twice beaten in the Premiership and once in the Worthington Cup by Gianluca's Vialli's side last season.

The defeats helped cost Villa a place in Europe for this campaign, but the Birmingham club did play summer friendlies with Ajax, Feyenoord and Fiorentina.

"We are now better equipped than last season. Playing three pre-season games against tough opposition who were good at keeping the ball has also contributed to our improvement," said Gregory

Midfielder Lee Hendrie is looking to stake a claim in the first-team in place of new 4.5m midfielder George Boateng.

In each of the opening three games of the season, Hendrie has impressively replaced the Dutchman as a second-half substitute.

Vialli memories

Villa will go down in Vialli's own personal history as the team which suffered from the last competitive hat-trick of his illustrious career - in the cup game at Stamford Bridge last October.

But the Chelsea boss denies missing the cut and thrust of playing after hanging up his boots in pre-season.

"Sometimes I miss the great feeling of scoring goals,"he admitted.

"But when you're on the bench, you've got enough adrenalin in your body so you don't really miss it."

Graeme Le Saux has been ruled out of the game with a calf problem.

Didier Deschamps is extremely doubtful with a similar injury but new signing Gabriele Ambrosetti has been included in the squad.

Newcastle v Wimbledon

Viall's Chelsea predecessor Ruud Gullit could be forgiven for wishing he was 10 years younger as his under-pressure side entertain Wimbledon at St James Park.

[ image: Ruud Gullit desperately needs some points]
Ruud Gullit desperately needs some points
The Magpies are stranded at the bottom of the Premiership without a point, and the Dutchman will be without the services of suspended captain Alan Shearer.

Duncan Ferguson may replace him by returning to the starting line-up for the first time since December.

The Scot returned to full training this week after suffering a calf muscle injury as he recovered from surgery on his long-standing groin problem.

Spanish defender Marcelino is also due to return from a thigh injury while full-back Andy Griffin returns from a three-match ban.

Dons striker John Hartson is doubtful after twisting his ankle in training and defender Dean Blackwell is suspended, but captain Robbie Earle is back after a facial injury.

Leeds v Sunderland

Striker Michael Bridges may miss facing his old club at Elland Road due to an ankle injury.

Bridges, a club record 5m capture from the Wearsiders this summer, picked up the injury in last Saturday's defeat at Manchester United.

Alan Smith could be brought back after missing the last two games with an ankle problem.

Sunderland defender Steve Bould will have a late fitness test on the hamstring strain he suffered in last Saturday's clash with Arsenal

Former German international Thomas Helmer, who replaced him last weekend, is standing by for his first start of the season.

Middlesbrough v Liverpool

Middlesbrough manager Bryan Robson welcomes back defender Gary Pallister to the team to face Liverpool at the Riverside Stadium.

This will be Pallister's first match of the campaign, replacing fellow defender Dean Gordon who is likely to miss the rest of the season after undergoing surgery to repair a snapped ligament.

Midfielder Paul Gascoigne will also be back after being rested for the 3-1 win at Derby last week.

Liverpool boss Gerard Houllier takes his team to Teesside without many of his first team.

Michael Owen is still missing while David Thompson could come into the team in place of winger Vladimir Smicer.

Steven Gerrard is likely to hold his midfield role as injured German Dietmar Hamann's replacement.

Sheffield Wednesday v Tottenham

Tottenham manager George Graham travels to Hillsborough without the services of star defender Sol Campbell.

The England man damaged a calf muscle during the opening day game at West Ham.

Spurs have had another setback with the news that 1.5m midfielder Willem Korsten will be out for two weeks after further treatment to his ankle.

Darren Anderton, Jose Dominguez and striker Les Ferdinand should be back from injury.

Wednesday manager Danny Wilson may be without injured pair Andy Hinchcliffe and midfielder Danny Sonner.

Phil O'Donnell and Philip Scott have both fully recovered from injury and illness respectively and should be included in the squad.

West Ham v Leicester

West Ham manager Harry Redknapp has midfielder Steve Lomas available again after suspension, and John Moncur could make way.

Trevor Sinclair has been given the all-clear to play after getting seven stitches in his knee - and an injury time equaliser - at Villa Park on Monday night.

Marc Keller will replace injured defender Scott Minto.

Leicester City manager Martin O'Neill will be hoping to reverse their bad luck of recent matches, when late own goals from Frank Sinclair have twice cost the Foxes points.

Former West Ham winger Andy Impey is O'Neill's only injury worry after missing training through illness this week.

Watford v Bradford

Bradford defender Ashley Westwood will miss his third game of the season when the Bantams travel to Watford.

Jewell lost the services of Westwood in the opening two matches of the season due to suspension, and a knee injury rules him out of the trip to Vicarage Road.

Fellow defender John Dreyer, should be fit despite a groin strain but Stuart McCall, Lee Sharpe and Isiah Rankin remain on the long-term injured list.

Vicarage Road is also home to a lengthy injury list as the two relegation favourites meet.

Midfielder Richard Johnson is out for six weeks after damaging knee ligaments.

Peter Kennedy returned from Northern Ireland duty this week with a deadleg which puts him in doubt for Bradford.

Nick Wright, Allan Smart, Alec Chamberlain, Gifton Noel-Williams and Ben Iroha are also long-term casualties.

Coventry v Derby

Coventry manager could give a debut to new signing Robbie Keane when his side entertain Derby tommorow.

[ image: Robbie Keane: Set for debut]
Robbie Keane: Set for debut
The 19-year-old completed his move to Highfield Road for a fee believed to be in the region of 6m and went straight into the squad for the visit of Jim Smith's side.

The former Wolves striker, who signed for Coventry in a #6million deal yesterday, is expected to start the match alongside John Aloisi.

Derby have not been so lucky in the transfer market and the length attempt to sign Argentinian Esteban Fuertes has been called off.

Dean Sturridge is back in contention after missing two games with a hamstring problem but Tony Dorigo is till out with a calf injury.

Igor Stimac is on international duty with Croatia but Lars Bohinen may play after he came through a reserve match on Tuesday.

Everton v Southampton

Kevin Davies is expected to make his return for the Saints after moving back to The Dell from Blackburn with Norwegian Egil Ostenstad moving in the opposite direction.

England under-21 international James Beattie has returned to training after missing the start of the campaign with broken ribs and is hopeful of a place on the bench.

Captain Jason Dodd faces a late fitness test on a shoulder problem while Matthew Le Tissier has been told to rest his niggling Achilles and Chris Marsden is ruled out with a toe injury.

Everton's Dave Watson is doubtful with a hamstring injury and Mark Pembridge could come into the midfield.

There is also a doubt over the form of Don Hutchinson who was left out at last week at Tottenham.

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In this section

White Rose rivals meet again

Derby double swoop fails

Spurs stifle depleted Gunners

Dons destroy Leeds hopes

Campbell punishes Newcastle

Goalless as east meets west

Cole double sinks Leicester

Anfield has to wait for win

Steady Reddy saves Sunderland

Poor Villa beaten by Saints

De Bilde saves Wednesday

Bantams hold quick start Coventry

Heggem seals Anfield victory

Mighty Quinn sends Spurs crashing

Keane leads Coventry charge

Harte breaks Hammers