Drogba still sidelined for Man United clash

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

Chelsea's clash with champions Manchester United on Sunday has come too soon for striker Didier Drogba who is unlikely to feature as he continues his recovery from a serious head injury, said manager Andre-Villas Boas.

"I think it will be too soon to go with him for the Manchester United game so he may be out," said Villas-Boas of the Ivory Coast forward who suffered concussion in a clash with Norwich City goalkeeper John Ruddy last month.

Chelsea are otherwise at full strength apart from long-term injury victim Michael Essien. However, reserve goalkeepers Hilario and Ross Turnbull are both struggling with injuries but Villas-Boas said one of them will definitely be on the bench.

Manchester United will be without Nemanja Vidic (calf), Rafael (shoulder), Tom Cleverley (foot) and Danny Welbeck (hamstring) who is back in training and could be fit for next week's match against Stoke City, said manager Sir Alex Ferguson.

Goalkeeper David de Gea should return after being rested for the Champions League game at Benfica as will Ashley Young.

Tottenham Hotspur manager Harry Redknapp will recall most of the first-team players rested for the club's first Europa League group game of the campaign at PAOK Salonika in midweek when they host Liverpool on Sunday.

Playmaker Rafael van der Vaart has made a quicker-than-expected recovery from a hamstring injury but it will be too early for him to start against Liverpool.

Before the 0-0 draw in Greece for which Redknapp made 10 changes, he said: "We've got a lot of senior players injured, William Gallas, Michael Dawson, Danny Rose, Steven Pienaar, Tom Huddlestone, Sandro, Aaron Lennon, Rafa van der Vaart..."

Liverpool will be without right-back Glen Johnson for the trip to White Hart Lane while manager Kenny Dalglish said he would not rush captain Steven Gerrard back from injury.

"We've only got Glen Johnson [out] really. We are just waiting for some test results to come back. We'll take it on from there," he told reporters.

"Obviously Steven [Gerrard] is progressing well. Martin Kelly is back in training too. Fabio [Aurelio] is also close to coming back and joining us."

Manchester City's Aleksandar Kolarov, whose goal salvaged a point in the club's Champions League debut against Napoli in midweek, is fit for the visit to Fulham on Sunday despite suffering a broken nose against the Italians.

James Milner, who had a clash of heads in last weekend's 3-0 win over Wigan Athletic, is unavailable while fellow midfielder Nigel de Jong needs another 10 days to two weeks to recover from an ankle injury.

Arsenal's Wales midfielder Aaron Ramsey has a "little chance" of being fit for the visit to Blackburn Rovers in Saturday's early kick-off, said manager Arsene Wenger.

Striker Gervinho, midfielder Alex Song and full-back Carl Jenkinson are all available after domestic bans.

Thomas Vermaelen and Abou Diaby (both ankle) will not return until after the next international break in October while England midfielder Jack Wilshere (ankle) faces a long spell out - he will be in a protective boot for six weeks.

Blackburn are hopeful Christopher Samba and Junior Hoilett will be fit after both came off against Fulham last Sunday. Centre-back Samba is recovering from a stiff back while Hoilett suffered minor concussion and had several stitches.

David Dunn (calf), Ryan Nelson (knee) and Morten Gamst Pedersen (hamstring) will all have late fitness tests.