LONDON - Round-up of injury and player news ahead of this weekend's Premier League programme:
Nemanja Vidic has recovered from illness and returns to the centre of Manchester United's defence against Aston Villa on Saturday but, with a host of other defenders still out, midfielder Michael Carrick is set to partner him.
Manager Alex Ferguson has shot down newspaper speculation that he planned to bring in former England defender Sol Campbell in the January window.
Wayne Rooney, Dimitar Berbatov and Ryan Giggs, who all missed the midweek Champions League win over Vfl Wolfsburg either through being rested or with minor knocks, are all available again for the evening kick-off at Old Trafford.
Striker Danny Welbeck has signed a new contract to keep him at the club until 2013. Chelsea's latest setback is a hamstring tear suffered by Michael Essien that will rule him out until the new year. With the African Nations Cup then taking him away in January, the Londoners will be without the Ghana midfielder until February.
Having lost two and drawn one of their last three games in the League, League Cup and Champions League, Chelsea will want to get back on course at home to Everton on Saturday.
Everton also have a long injury list and there was more bad news on Friday with the announcement that centre back Joseph Yobo will be out for a month with a hamstring strain sustained early in last week's 2-2 draw with Tottenham Hotspur.
Everton are already without defenders Sylvain Distin, Phil Neville and Phil Jagielka as well as several midfielders and last week used diminutive fullback Tony Hibbert as an emergency centre-back. Arsenal forward Theo Walcott says he will be fine to play against Liverpool at Anfield on Sunday despite suffering a knock in the closing stages of Wednesday's Champions League match against Olympiakos Piraeus, the 20-year-old's only full appearance so far this season.
"The boots are so thin these days you can feel it," Walcott told the club website.
Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez received a fitness boost for three of his key players during Wednesday's Champions League 2-1 loss to Fiorentina.
"Alberto Aquilani and Fernando Torres both looked good, while Steven Gerrard is getting closer to full fitness," he told the club website.
Spain striker Torres had missed Liverpool's last five games before Fiorentina, while August signing Aquilani made his first start in the same match before being substituted near the end. Manchester City midfielder Gareth Barry says he is prepared to move into defence for the game at Bolton Wanderers on Saturday if manager Mark Hughes needs cover for the injured Wayne Bridge.
"It's a position I've played in before and I have actually played left-back for England when Kevin Keegan was in charge," Barry told the club's website.
City defender Michael Johnson will be out for the season after a scan on Friday showed he had sustained knee ligament damage when his stud got caught in the turf during training.
Johnson, 21, who missed almost a year with an abdominial problem, had been back on the verge of the first team. West Ham United striker Dean Ashton announced his retirement from football at the age of 26 on Friday because of an ankle injury he sustained on England duty three years ago.
"This is a sad day and our thoughts are with Dean," chief executive Scott Duxbury told West Ham's website. Wolverhampton Wanderers striker Andy Keogh faces three months on the sidelines after suffering an ankle injury in training on Thursday.