Rooney fit to face Chelsea

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

Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney has recovered from a tight hamstring and will be fit for Sunday's huge match against Chelsea, manager Sir Alex Ferguson told a news conference on Friday.

Victory for United would leave them needing just one point from their two remaining games to claim a record 19th league title, while a win for Chelsea would put the London side top on goal difference to set up a nail-biting finale to the season.

Chelsea striker Didier Drogba, the Premier League's top scorer last season, is not bothered that with 11 league goals this time he is far behind last year's total of 29 and is more concerned with catching United in the title race.

"I love to score and I hope to create assists too," he said on the club's website. "I think a complete striker needs to be able to score and to create assists so whenever you don't score you know you can still be dangerous and help your team."

Chelsea will be without injured defender Jose Bosingwa while midfielder Yuri Zhirkov will have a fitness test on Saturday.

Third-placed Arsenal, whose title hopes are little more than mathematical, will be without captain Cesc Fabregas (thigh) and midfielders Abou Diaby (calf) and Samir Nasri (hamstring) for Sunday's trip to Stoke City.

The Gunners could, however, be boosted by the return of defender Thomas Vermaelen who has not played since last August because of an ankle injury, manager Arsene Wenger told the club's in-house television channel on Friday.

Stoke City winger Matthew Etherington is set to miss the Arsenal game but there was encouraging news on his hamstring injury with the club hoping he might be fit in time for next week's FA Cup Final against Manchester City at Wembley.

"We are certainly feeling more positive about the situation now, he's making good progress," assistant manager Dave Kemp said on the club's website.

Liverpool midfielder Jay Spearing signed a contract extension on Friday, the club said on their website without disclosing the length of the deal.

Spearing, 22, has become a regular since Kenny Dalglish took over from Roy Hodgson in January. Liverpool, in fifth place, travel to mid-table Fulham on Monday.

Tottenham Hotspur, still clinging to the faint hope of overhauling Manchester City for fourth place and a Champions League spot, are again without Benoit Assou-Ekotto (hamstring) for the visit of relegation-threatened Blackpool.

Vedran Corluka, who filled in for him at left-back in last week's defeat away to Chelsea, is also a doubt with a hamstring strain so Gareth Bale may have to drop back to cover. Midfielder Tom Huddlestone remains sidelined with an ankle injury.

League Cup winners Birmingham City were cleared on Friday to play in next season's Europa League after being granted a UEFA licence.

Local media had reported that financial concerns might prevent them playing in the continent's second tier club competition.

"This means we can all focus on what are really exciting times for the club," acting chairman Peter Pannu said on the club's website the day before City, who are not clear of relegation trouble, travel to Newcastle United.

Manchester City striker Craig Bellamy, on loan at Championship Cardiff, wants to stay at the promotion-chasing Welsh club if he cannot play for his parent club in the Premier League.

"My stance is clear on this. If I can't play for Manchester City in the Premier League, I won't play for anyone else in the Premier League. I'm adamant on that," he told a news conference.

"They own me, they're my club. If I can't play for them, I won't play for anyone else apart from Cardiff City."