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UEFA Cup contenders head into second leg matches worried by injuries in busy season

UEFA Cup contenders head into second leg matches worried by injuries in busy season

Bayer Leverkusen, Atletico Madrid and Marseille are targeting a place in the last 16 of the UEFA Cup on Thursday while worrying over the fitness of key players.
With games piling up for teams in Europe's top leagues as the season heads toward its final stages, clubs are having to juggle resources and make do without important squad members.
Bayer Leverkusen drew 0-0 last week at Galatasaray, another former winner of Europe's second-tier club competition, but will be without striker Dmitri Bulykin for the return match in Germany.
Atletico could have to overturn a 1-0 deficit against Bolton without winger Simao Sabrosa, while Benoit Cheyrou will sit out Marseille's defense of a 3-0 lead at Spartak Moscow in another of the day's 16 matches.
Leverkusen, which won the UEFA Cup in 1988, needs only one goal against 2000 champion Galatasaray to progress to the next stage. But its chances of getting that goal were hit when Bulykin tore left ankle ligaments in the first half of Saturday's 2-2 draw with Karlsruher SC in the German league.
The Russia striker was only on the bench for the first leg in Istanbul, but looked to be in coach Michael Skibbe's plans after starting his first Bundesliga match on Saturday.
And Atletico needs to score to avoid certain elimination after it lost at Bolton last week, but Simao damaged his left thigh muscle in the first leg and may not make the return.
Simao has scored just three goals in 21 Portuguese league matches this season, but his crosses and approach play are crucial to the team's attacking schemes.
Bolton is fuming after its itinerary for the trip to Madrid, including its flight number, hotel and training schedule, was posted on Atletico's Web site.
It could contribute to another fiercely contested game after Atletico's Sergio Aguero was sent off in the first leg for spitting and striker Mista could have been punished for the same offense.
"This is very strange behavior for a club of Atletico's size and status," Bolton manager Gary Megson said. "It obviously raises serious security concerns regarding Bolton Wanderers players and staff ahead of this game."
The absence of Cheyrou for Marseille appears to be less problematic since his club has a healthy lead ahead of its trip to Moscow, but the midfielder could be missed after he scored one goal and set up another in the first match.
Cheyrou hurt his ankle in a 2-1 win against Paris Saint-Germain on Sunday that lifted Marseille up to fourth place in the French league, and defender Julien Rodriguez will also miss the match with a similar injury.
Aberdeen's chances of an upset win at Bayern Munich have been hit by the failure of defender Richard Byrne, midfielders Jackie McNamara and Derek Young, and striker James Smith to recover from the injuries which kept them out of last week's 2-2 draw against the tournament favorite.
"If we got a result it would be historic," Aberdeen manager Jimmy Calderwood said. "We have to win the game or get a high-scoring draw, but we can always dream."
Two-time winner Tottenham is protecting a 2-1 lead against visiting Slavia Prague, but coach Juande Ramos, who won the tournament in the last two seasons with Sevilla, has to decide whether to risk resting players ahead of Sunday's League Cup final against Chelsea at Wembley.
Ramos may opt to rest captain Ledley King to ease his comeback from a knee injury, with Younes Kaboul, Tom Huddlestone and Didier Zokora the other contenders for a central defensive spot, most likely alongside Jonathan Woodgate.
Fullback Alan Hutton is ineligible after his former club Rangers, which is 0-0 ahead of its match at Panathinaikos, dropped into the tournament from the Champions League.
In other matches on Thursday, PSV Eindhoven leads 2-0 at Helsingborg, Anderlecht leads 2-1 at Bordeaux, and Werder Bremen leads 3-0 at Braga.


Updated : 2021-10-26 14:38 GMT+08:00