Chelsea defenders John Terry and Ashley Cole look set to line up against Anton Ferdinand in Saturday's highly-charged west London derby against QPR.
The Barclays Premier League encounter is the first meeting between the clubs since Terry was found not guilty of using a racial slur against the Hoops' Ferdinand in the corresponding fixture last October.
Terry remains the subject of a Football Association investigation over the charges that he denies, while left-back Cole was a character witness for Terry in the trial. The pair had looked set to miss the Loftus Road clash after picking up knocks on international duty with England, but both trained on Thursday at Chelsea's Cobham training ground.
With both likely to return for the Blues and Ferdinand recovering well after a shoulder injury, there has been speculation as to whether the latter would shake some of his Chelsea counterparts' hands.
That tradition was abandoned in advance of the previous two encounters between the clubs, although, regardless of the tension, the Premier League has no plans to cancel the pre-match handshakes this time.
Press Association Sport understands the body expect them to go ahead and that QPR and Chelsea have been in talks about how to approach Saturday's fixture. An announcement on the matter is expected before Mark Hughes' pre-match press conference on Friday afternoon and follows warnings made by both clubs on Thursday.
QPR published a warning on its official website, www.qpr.co.uk, under the title 'Your Behaviour: A Reminder', while Chelsea posted their own statement called 'The Right Rivalry'.
"Last January's FA Cup match at QPR and the meeting between the sides in April at Stamford Bridge were good examples of passionate and vocal rivalry with the fans of both clubs recognising that abuse and discrimination have no place in a football stadium, nor anywhere else in society," read the statement posted on the club's official website, www.chelseafc.com.
"Chelsea Football Club wishes to see the level of respect at those games continued throughout this campaign, as it has been in our opening matches.
"Both Chelsea and QPR will work together with the police to ensure that anyone using discriminatory or inflammatory language on Saturday is identified, and that the strongest possible action is taken against them."
- Anton Ferdinand
- John Terry