Hammers striker Carroll could make first EPL start in eight months

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Back in the fray: Carroll.

West Ham striker Andy Carroll could make his first Premier League start in more than eight months in today’s trip to Sunderland.

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The England international tore knee ligaments in February but made an appearance off the bench in a 2-2 draw against Norwich City last weekend and is expected to recover from a sore ankle to feature at the Stadium of Light.

Carroll missed five months of the 2013/14 season with a heel injury and made just 16 appearances last term after suffering both ankle and knee ligament damage.

West Ham coach Slaven Bilic tipped the 26-year-old to return to the England squad if the forward can avoid further injury setbacks.

“The England squad will come as a logical result if things are cured,” Bilic said. “First of all he has to stay away from injuries. Only with that can he be in a position to have a great season. In the past it has not been because he dropped in form it’s because he was injured.”

Elsewhere, Eddie Howe says Bournemouth will be a “different team” without injured top scorer Callum Wilson.

Wilson, who made a stunning start to Premier League life, was struck down by an anterior cruciate ligament injury in his right knee at Stoke last weekend and faces at least six months on the sidelines.

“We’re going to be a different team now with Callum being out,” Cherries boss Howe said ahead of the visit of fellow new boys Watford. “It is up to everybody to step up and give more.”

Dwight Gayle is set to continue in the Crystal Palace attack for today’s early kick-off against West Brom at Selhurst Park. Aston Villa will again be without Adama Traore again when they welcome Stoke City to Villa Park.

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Pellegrini powerless to stop Kompany playing for Belgium

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Sidelined: Kompany.

Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini admits he would be powerless to stop Belgium playing captain Vincent Kompany in their final Euro 2016 qualifiers.

– INTERVIEW: Adrian Mutu searches for Euro return via ISL
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Belgium coach Marc Wilmots is heading for a potential clash with Pellegrini after naming the injured City skipper in his squad for the upcoming fixtures against Andorra and Israel.

The influential defender has missed City’s last four games with a calf problem and has also been ruled out of Saturday’s Premier League clash against Newcastle.

Pellegrini claims the 29-year-old will not be fit for another fortnight and Belgium will soon realise that. But Wilmots, who has a right to have Kompany examined by his own medical staff, is hopeful the player could face Israel on October 13.

Pellegrini, said: “Of course it’s outside the control of any club manager. The national team have a list of the players that play for them and they have, in the international break, the authority to use them.

“We can’t do anything about that because they have the decision – but he cannot play. I hope that Vincent can return after the international break but I am not sure. I hope that after 15 days he will be able to play but the calf is a difficult muscle. We must see in the way he improves.”

Wilmots delivered a more upbeat assessment of Kompany’s condition as he spoke to media following his squad announcement. He told reporters in Belgium: “I talked to Vincent on the phone yesterday. He missed a few games but now he is fit.

“Vincent is coming. After consulting with Manchester City and the medical staff he will follow a tailored fitness programme.

“On Monday he starts to run again. He won’t play Saturday against Andorra but there’s a big chance that against Israel he will be fit to play.

“Anyway I wanted Vincent with us, he will follow his schedule with us. But we won’t take risks with him.”

City have clashed with Belgium over their captain in the past. In March 2013 former City manager Roberto Mancini criticised Wilmots for picking Kompany to face Macedonia despite a lengthy lay-off with a calf injury.

Pellegrini was insistent there would be no repeat this time simply because Kompany will not be fit. He said: “I can’t ask him not to travel – if the national team call him, he must go. He is an important player, he must be with his mates and Belgium are playing important games for the next European Championship.

“It is not a problem for him to go to the national squad but he cannot play.”

Newcastle boss Steve McClaren is refusing to sit back and admire his team after one good performance. The Magpies belatedly demonstrated what they are capable of last weekend when they came within four minutes of victory over champions Chelsea before having to settle for a 2-2 draw.

McClaren said: “The pressure will always be there. There is pressure to perform at the standard we want. You should have that pressure and fear. That makes you concentrated. We will need that to get anything at the Etihad.

“Consistency is now what we are after from that level of performance against Chelsea.” 

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Gray and Keys: EPL predictions - Week 8

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Daniel Sturridge has returned at just the right time for Liverpool.

Week eight of the Premier League season features big clashes and raises big questions wherever you look. Can Everton topple struggling Liverpool in the Merseyside Derby, can Arsenal halt Manchester United's stay at the summit and is Jose Mourinho able to turn around Chelsea's poor start to the campaign at home to Southampton.

As ever Andy Gray and Richard Keys, who front beIN Sports’ EPL coverage, discuss these games, the weekend’s other clashes and give their match predictions.

– INTERVIEW: Adrian Mutu searches for Euro return via ISL

– INTERVIEW: Roberto Carlos on free-kicks and ISL ambition
– #360business: Bleak financial figures don't deter ISL investors

Everton v Liverpool

AG: Ten days ago I would be confident of tipping my team but with Daniel Sturridge back in the Liverpool they have a real goal threat. That will worry Everton but they have a good mindset at the moment and with Romelu Lukaku’s power up front they can win this as long as they don’t default back to the passing game they sometimes play.

If they stay direct, play with pace and get the ball into Lukaku I think Liverpool will struggle to cope. 2-1.

RK: Liverpool’s draw with Sion on Thursday in the Europa Cup just about sums up how bad they are and I don’t agree with Andy
on Sturridge. There are too many times when he doesn’t turn up. 2-0.

Man Utd v Arsenal

AG: I would like to see Wayne Rooney up top a bit more because he needs goals and this is an important time in his career. He is still a fine footballer with an awful lot to offer but he should be the Cristiano Ronaldo of Manchester United, dominating games, That just isn’t happening for him at the moment so I really hope he can start putting the ball in the net again. He might get one today but I reckon Arsenal will win this simply because they are the better team. 3-1.

RK: I think Van Gaal has stumbled across a decent starting eleven but I agree with Andy on Rooney. He used to dominate games like this but we haven’t seen that for far too long. He is being overshadowed by Martial who has had a brilliant start to his EPL career and looks a top drawer player but for me there’s no legs in midfield and that is where Arsenal can get control of this game.

Wenger has been criticised this week for not playing Petr Cech against Olympiakos and he will know, if the player is not
injured, that he made a mistake because that was a must-win game as is this. Arsenal will bring United back down to earth by winning this one. 2-1.

Man City v Newcastle

AG: Forget about the defeat to Spurs, City will be far to strong for Newcastle. I would say they have the strongest front four in the Premier League with Sergio Aguero, Kevin De Bruyne, Raheem Sterling and David Silva and they will dismantle
Newcastle with ease. A very comfortable 2-0.

RK: City were dreadful against Spur last week but Newcastle’s draw with Chelsea was a freak result and if that game had gone on for another five minutes they would have lost. 3-0.

Chelsea v Southampton


AG: I thought Chelsea did ok against Porto who are a very good side and rarely get beaten at home.It was a bad result and there is no doubt Chelsea need to start playing well but it’s not all doom and gloom as some are trying to portray. Southampton are a good side and they might score but I think Jose Mourinho’s side will win his 2-1.

RK: I am fascinated by what’s happening at Stamford Bridge and I just feel something’s not right. I have no idea why Mourinho didn’t play John Terry against Porto so there is obviously an issue. Costa is still not right and I think Mourinho is scratching his head and saying ‘what’s happened?’ In the circumstances I think Southampton can get a draw. 1-1.

Crystal Palace v West Brom


AG: Palace are up against their old manager Tony Pulis who is organised, disciplined, tough to beat. However, West Brom still look a bit unsettled to me and Palace will have too much pace for them. 2-0.

RK: Nope, can’t see that because Pulis knows Palace inside out and that will worry Alan Pardew which, psychologically, puts him at a disadvantage. This could be a battle of set pieces. 0-1.

Norwich v Leicester

AG: It will be interesting to see how Leicester react after being thrashed by Arsenal last week. Norwich will fancy this but I have
learned never to write off Leicester. 2-2.

RK: Norwich have been playing well and they have home advantage. If they can get a bit of momentum going they can deliver
another blow to Leicester. 2-1.

Sunderland v West Ham


AG: West Ham are a very difficult team to predict but they have had some terrific results away from home and Sunderland are struggling. 0-1.

RK: I am still not convinced by the Hammers and Sunderland are desperate for points. 1-1.

Swansea v Tottenham

AG: Swansea have faded while Tottenham are going the other way and if they don’t get a performance on the back of beating Man City last week then they never will. 1-2.

RK: I don’t know where Swansea’s next goal is coming from and they are up against a side that has had three clean sheets in the last four games. 0-2.

Aston Villa v Stoke City

AG: Based on nothing more than the fact that Aston Villa are desperate for a win I’m going for 1-0.

RK: This is a serious test for Tim Sherwood against a Stoke side that will only get better after starting slowly. If Villa lose this they will be in real trouble. 1-1.

Bournemouth v Watford

AG: Bournemouth have lost their best player Callum Wilson to injury and Watford are well organised so I can see them getting a result here. 1-2.

RK: Can’t agree. Bournemouth will be hard to beat on home turf and even without Wilson they are a better side than Watford. 2-1.

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