Balotelli says sorry for Kyiv dismissal

LONDON - Brief news ahead of this weekend's Premier League matches.

Manchester City striker Mario Balotelli has apologised for his reckless high tackle that earned a straight red card in Thursday's Europa League match against Dynamo Kiev.

Manager Roberto Mancini had already branded his player's challenge "stupid" and said he was unlikely to be in the squad to face Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Sunday but Balotelli sought to smooth things over.

"It was not my intention to hurt anyone," he said on the club's website. "The tackle was poor and I'm very sorry to my team mates in particular that I got sent off so early in such an important game."

His first-half dismissal left City with an uphill task to overturn a 2-0 deficit from the first leg and they could manage only a 1-0 win which sent them out of the competition.

Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti has told his side to guard against the break as he looks for his first ever win over Manchester City.

"All three games we lost against Man City [while I have been manager] we have lost due to counter attacks," he said on the club's website.

"Man City will try to do the same on Sunday, they are very dangerous in counter-attacks and obviously we want to avoid this. We do this by maintaining a good balance on the pitch because we want to play our football as well."

Fourth-placed Chelsea can go above third-placed City with a win.

Rio Ferdinand has a long career ahead of him at Manchester United despite his latest long-term injury set-back, manager Sir Alex Ferguson said.

The centre-back suffered a calf injury in the warm-up for their 2-1 defeat at Wolverhampton Wanderers on February 5 and Ferguson warned on Thursday he might play no further part this season.

"Rio has got plenty of years ahead of him," Ferguson said on the club website ahead of the league leaders' game against Bolton Wanderers on Saturday.

"He's had a few injuries over the last few years which I'm sure are a concern for him, but he's still capable.

"He only needs to look at the example of Gary Neville. Gary suffered with injuries in his 30s and made comebacks time and time again."

West Bromwich Albion midfielder Youssouf Mulumbu has won his battle to be fit for Saturday's visit of Arsenal after missing two weeks with a calf problem, the club said on their website.

Team-mate Chris Brunt, however, is doubtful with a fever, while Graham Dorrans will have a second scan on Wednesday on the ankle injury he sustained two weeks ago.

Tottenham Hotspur defender William Gallas is fit to face West Ham United in Saturday's derby at White Hart Lane after fears he had picked up a hamstring injury in training.

"William joined in (training) and he was fine," said manager Harry Redknapp after the Frenchman had limped off on Tuesday.

Wilson Palacios and Younes Kaboul (knee) plus Jonathan Woodgate and Ledley King (groin) remain sidelined. Tom Huddlestone is back in training after a long-term ankle injury.

West Ham manager Avram Grant has decisions to make in attack with Frederic Piquionne hurt last weekend in the FA Cup defeat at Stoke City, a match in which Demba Ba was rested.

Aston Villa's 17-year-old midfielder Juan Serrano has signed a new contract that will keep him at Villa Park until 2013, the club said.

The Spaniard was spotted playing for Espanyol and joined Villa's academy in January.

Villa host fellow strugglers Wolverhampton Wanderers on Saturday.

Blackpool welcome back Charlie Adam, Gary Taylor-Fletcher and Craig Cathcart from suspension, injury and illness respectively as they continue their battle to stay in the Premier League at Blackburn Rovers on Saturday.

"I've got Charlie back and two or three other players back so I might be able to pick a slightly more familiar team to our fans for this next game," manager Ian Holloway said on the club website.

Birmingham City have been boosted by the return of six players ahead of Saturday's game at Wigan Athletic, the club said on their website.

Roger Johnson, Barry Ferguson, Stephen Carr, Martin Jiranek, Craig Gardner and Obafemi Martins have all returned to training for the Midlands side who are one place above the drop zone.