St Ledger steps into the gap at Wembley for Millwall
Adds to strong Irish contingent who face off against James MCarthy for FA Cup finl place
Kevin Doyle of Wolves looks set to retain the captain’s armband. Photograph: Ben Hoskins/Getty Images
Less than a fortnight after joining the club on an emergency loan from Leicester City, Sean St Ledger is expected to make his fourth appearance for Millwall in this afternoon’s FA Cup semi-final at Wembley.
The 28-year-old moved to the New Den in order to provide much needed defensive cover for Kenny Jackett’s regular defenders and the Republic of Ireland international could well be rewarded with an appearance in a cup final if the Lions can overcome Wigan.
The central defender’s inclusion would only add to an already strong Irish presence in the Millwall camp. David Forde, Alan Dunne and Andy Keogh, who is set to return for the cup-tied Jermaine Easter, are all expected to start.
Jackett’s starting line-up also includes Shane Lowry, the former Aston Villa defender who previously declared for Ireland before reverting to his native Australia while Liam Feeney, who has expressed an interest in playing for Giovanni Trapattoni’s side, is also included in the squad.
James McCarthy is expected to start the game for Wigan while his international midfield partner, Glenn Whelan, should make the starting line -up for Stoke as they look to halt their dramatic slide towards relegation trouble by scoring an unlikely win over Manchester United.
Stoke’s success in previous Premier League campaigns had been built on their solid home record but Tony Pulis’s side has won just one of their last seven games at the Britannia Stadium and taken just five points since the start of the year. Their record against United, meanwhile, has been wretched even in their better seasons with one draw and eight defeats against league leaders in their last nine meetings.
Whelan has been struggling with a back injury but trained through the latter part of the week. Marc Wilson, who has a combination of back and hamstring problems, is far less certain to be involved with the left back facing a late fitness test.
Paul Lambert could have Ciarán Clark back for the visit of Fulham but the 23-year-old must also prove his fitness shortly before kick off. Clark injured his shoulder playing for Ireland against Austria but the Villa boss says that he has recovered from the problem more quickly than initially expected.
Elsewhere, James McClean looks likely to have to settle for a place on Sunderland’s bench again tomorrow when the team face Newcastle in a derby game that Paolo Di Canio’s side badly need something out of.
The same could be said of Wolves as they prepare to face Huddersfield and Kevin Foley could return for the Championship strugglers with Matt Doherty struggling due to an ankle problem.
Kevin Doyle looks set to retain the captain’s armband.
“Being captain has made a difference to Kevin’s game,” says Wolves manager Dean Saunders. “He’s scored two and made one since having the armband, so I’ll probably be looking to let him carry on. He’s a big player, he’s bang on form and you need your big players at times like this.
“I think it (Doyle’s return to form) coincided with (Stephen) Hunt coming into the team and crossing the ball early as well. If you know the ball’s coming in, you can attack it. I say to the wide players ‘cross it at the earliest opportunity’.”