Ben Dinnery

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Late Fitness Check GW24

Friday, January 19, 2018


The transfer merry-go-round is likely to have more of an impact on team selection this week, rather than those affected by injury, as most sides enjoyed a much-needed break from competitive action.  

 

Wenger insists Alexis Sanchez “will play” against Palace and the Chilean was pictured training with the first-team at Colney on Friday. Sam Allardyce could hand Theo Walcott his debut to help kick start Everton’s stuttering season - a lack of goals and pace are the main reasons the Toffees have shelled out over £20 million for the former Gunner.

 

Paul Lambert returns to the top-flight after a three-year hiatus and the former Aston Villa boss will feel he has a lot to prove given his recent managerial record. However, the Scot has his work cut out as the Potters have the worst goals against record of any side [50] with a minus twenty-seven goal-difference. Only one team has ever survived in the Premier League with a similar goals against tally [Swansea in 2016/17].  

 

The Rotoworld Team will endeavour to guide you along every step of the way.


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Brighton and Hove Albion – vs – Chelsea


No fresh injury concerns for the Seagulls who are once again without the services of Steve Sidwell who suffered a fractured ankle while recovering from back surgery. Izzy Brown has had his loan agreement terminated after rupturing his anterior cruciate ligament, an injury which could keep him out for most of the year. Chris Hughton may look to shake things up following the disappointing 2-0 defeat to West Brom. Ezequiel Schelotto and Markus Suttner will be pushing for a recall after missing out at the Hawthorns while Solly March could replace Jose Izquierdo who was hooked at half-time. Tomer Hemed will compete with Glenn Murray to lead the attack as Brighton go in search of goals, 17 this term, only Swansea [14] have scored fewer.

 

Gary Cahill and Cesc Fabregas are ruled out with hamstring injuries and the pair have not travelled. Antonio Conte needs to "check a couple of situations" ahead of the game on the south coast. Ross Barkley will be in the squad after coming through 70 minutes of a behind-closed-doors friendly unscathed. Alvaro Morata and Pedro are both suspended creating a “a big problem” for the Chelsea boss.

 

 

Arsenal – vs – Crystal Palace


Laurent Koscielny [Achilles] and Nacho Monreal [ankle] are back in contention while Arsène Wenger expects Mesut Ozil [knee inflammation] to return to the matchday squad. Ainsley Maitland-Niles is an early doubt due to illness and he faces the prospect of a late fitness test. Fortunately, the fit-again Sead Kolasinac, who was an unused sub at Bournemouth, can come into the side. Olivier Giroud [hamstring] is still around a week away. If Alexis Sanchez hasn't secured a move [to Man United], then he will play this weekend, however, Wenger added. "It is likely to happen." The Chilean has trained with the squad... No problem with his attitude or his professionalism.

 

Roy Hodgson confirms Scott Dann [ACL] and Jason Puncheon [PCL] are out for the season. "On top of that Schlupp looks to be out for a while," but the Eagles boss is not sure how long Ruben Loftus-Cheek may be sidelined. "The injury is more severe than we originally thought, or perhaps hoped, it would be.” The Chelsea loanee will be checked again in 2-3 weeks but if he fails to respond to conservative treatment, then Loftus-Cheek may go under the knife to remedy an ankle problem. “I would be very disappointed, surgery or no surgery, if he's not playing before the end of the season.” Joel Ward [groin] has been back in training for the last for 10 days "so he's available". As is, Yohan Cabaye, who was restricted to a place on the bench [vs Burnley] due to muscle fatigue. Andros Townsend [ankle] is walking freely again, and despite initially being ruled out for at least a month, the winger could be in line for a surprise recall.

 

 

Burnley – vs – Manchester United


Sean Dyche confirms Jon Walters has undergone minor keyhole surgery to repair a small split in his [knee] cartilage. No timescale has been put on his return but "usually it’s six to eight weeks out" which means it's unlikely the Republic of Ireland international will move on-loan during the January window. Scott Arfield [hamstring] has every chance of making the game and "should be fit". No Chris Wood or Stephen Ward [both knee] this weekend, despite making good progress, Saturday is too soon for the injured duo. Dyche expects Charlie Taylor to recover from a minor rib injury. Tom Heaton is back on the training pitches after more than 4-months out having dislocated his shoulder against Palace in September. “He’s doing ever so well, he’s back on the grass working with Bill (Mercer). He’s not training with us yet, but he’s in full handling mode, diving and stretching.”

 

Daley Blind will miss out after suffering a "little injury" in training. Defender Eric Bailly [ankle] and striker Zlatan Ibrahimović [knee] are still recovering from injuries but "everyone else is fit and good." Shaw looks set to continue his run in the side despite the return of Ashley Young who is available again after serving a three-match ban. “Luke has done very well recently, played very well. I’m really happy with him. I can say in this moment, I don’t see many left-backs better than him." Mourinho states the deal with Arsenal - for Alexis Sanchez - is not done and confirms Henrikh Mkhitaryan will not be in the matchday squad.

 

 

Everton – vs – West Bromwich Albion


Michael Keane will return after missing the defeats to Liverpool and Tottenham having suffered a lacerated foot on New Years’ Day. Seamus Coleman [double leg fracture] is closing in on a return to action "he is back in training" although the full-back is expected to build fitness with the U23s before being considered for the first-team. Theo Walcott will train with his new teammates for the first time on Friday and Sam Allardyce will make a judgement call on his involvement.

 

West Brom have been monitoring Ahmed Hegazi and Craig Dawson all week after the pair clashed heads against Brighton. “We have had to go through all the procedures that have to happen with a head injury,” said Alan Pardew. "We are pretty confident that they will be okay. We will find out on Friday." James Morrison and Nacer Chadli are around a month away. Evans is still a Baggy [at the time of writing]. “From my point of view there is no bid so there’s nothing to discuss. Jonny hasn’t come and see me this week so I’m in the dark a little bit. We haven’t had a phone call from another football club and that’s where it stands."

 

 

Leicester City – vs – Watford


Danny Simpson had his first session back with the group on Thursday but Puel insists. "I don’t know if he’s match fit for this game.” Wes Morgan is making progress from the hamstring injury he suffered on January 01, although there is no timeline on when the skipper will be ready to return. Puel confirms Robert Huth [ankle surgery] is nearly match fit "and is in contention" for the visit of Watford. “He is close to coming back [and] he will give competition for the future." Matty James missed the win over Fleetwood Town midweek but should return after limping off at Chelsea. "It was a kick and is not a problem."

 

Marco Silva will make a late call on Tom Cleverley before naming his team to face Leicester. "He felt a minor problem [in the last match]. We have one more session [on Friday] and we’ll see his physical condition. It's a small injury in his hamstring, nothing special.” Everyone else came through the 2-2 draw with Southampton unscathed. “Nothing more after the last match,” reported Silva. “The list [of injured players] everybody knows. Some of them are improving but they are not ready yet. We still have a similar situation with Chalobah, Will [Hughes], Kiko, Kaboul and Miguel Britos and we’ll see when they are ready. We are doing our best to put them in a good condition.” Isaac Success is working hard to get back up-to full fitness while Craig Cathcart is close to a return.

 

 

Stoke City – vs – Huddersfield Town


"I think everyone is OK in terms of injuries," said new Stoke boss Paul Lambert. "They had [Wednesday] off and will be back in today. We'll have a closer look at them later." Ryan Shawcross [calf] returned to full training on Tuesday "and we will see how he's feeling". Glen Johnson [knee] was also back with the group but PSG loanee Jese Rodriguez remains absent due to personal reasons. No specific mention of Erik Pieters [hamstring], but he re-joined the squad last Friday and barring a setback, should be available. Kostas Stafylidis joined the club this week and Lambert will make a late call on the Greece international who has only played 31 minutes of domestic football in 2017/18. "I have to see how fit he is and how he’s feeling, he’s not played for a couple of months.”

 

David Wagner confirms Philip Billing and Michael Hefele will continue to build fitness with the U23s. "My plan is to have Phil back for the FA Cup match game against Birmingham City." New signing Alex Pritchard is hoping for more minutes following his cameo last weekend. "He showed against West Ham that on the ball he has things he can give us. Off the ball he has to adapt, and we are helping him with that on the grass and with videos." Martin Cranie [ankle] looks set to miss another 7-10 days while Jon Gorenc Stankovic [ACL] could rejoin the first-team squad in training from next week. "We had 22 players in training yesterday. If everyone stays healthy after Sunday, we will have 23. It’s great to have this at the moment and this competition." Elias Kachunga is the only long-term injury. Chris Lowe [foot] and Collin Quaner [hamstring] are expected to be in contention for the trip to Stoke.

 

 

West Ham United – vs – AFC Bournemouth


Carroll may be forced to go under the knife. "Andy picked up [an ankle injury] against West Brom [which] is sufficiently serious that he will not be able to play again this month. It could even need an operation to put things right, although that has not yet been confirmed," revealed Moyes. Antonio is closing in on a return. "[I'm] not far away now. Things are going well. At the beginning they said roughly six weeks, if things went well, and things are going well. So, hopefully two more weeks to go and I will be back." Hernandez looks like he's recovered from flu but David Moyes will need to check on Andre Ayew [lower leg] and Declan Rice who is feeling his hamstring. “Cheikhou Kouyate is back [but] Winston Reid is not training yet."

 

Eddie Howe plans to make wholesale changes following the midweek debacle in the FA Cup. "As for the Wigan game, not many - if any [of the players] - will play against West Ham United. I'm not doubting their quality, but they didn't perform, I wasn't happy with the quality of the performance." The unhappy Cherries boss will make a late call on Junior Stanislas and Joshua King who are getting closer. “Whether they're close enough we'll wait and see." Jermain Defoe is progressing nicely and should be back next month.

 

 

Manchester City – vs – Newcastle United


"Fabian Delph will be out for a while,” confirmed Pep Guardiola. “We're not quite sure yet [how long].” Still no Vincent Kompany for City although the skipper is said to be much better. “We don't know right now but hopefully in the next game he will be ready." Gabriel Jesus is targeting a return in the Champions League against FC Basel.

 

Dwight Gayle is expected to recover from the knock which forced him off against Swansea. Aleksandar Mitrovic has stepped up his training this week, and Benitez maybe tempted to include the out-of-favour striker given recent results. Chancel Mbemba is also close but Florian Lejeune and Jesus Gamez remain sidelined.

 

 

Southampton – vs – Tottenham Hotspur


Pellegrino confirms his only fitness concern, ahead of this weekend, is over centre-half Yoshida [hamstring]. “I think Maya will be a part of Saturday’s training session, maybe - but that will be decided tomorrow," the manager commented. “If Maya is able to make the squad, [then] Charlie [Austin] will be the only one on the injury list. So, we’ll be fully ready in this important moment.”

 

Hugo Lloris is fighting flu and the Tottenham goalkeeper is being closely monitored. Harry Winks [ankle] and Danny Rose [knee] remain out. Toby Alderweireld is in the last phase of his rehab before being integrated back into first-team training. Pochettino said the Belgium defender could return ahead of schedule and feature in the FA Cup next weekend.

 

 

Swansea City – vs – Liverpool


Mike van der Hoorn was forced off at Newcastle last weekend amid fears he had suffered a hamstring injury. However, scans indicate that no damage was done, and the defender has already returned to full training. Renato Sanches is set to join him on the training field [Saturday] but there are doubts over the fitness of Tammy Abraham [hip]. Club captain Angel Rangel is closing in on a comeback having suffered a calf injury earlier this month.

 

Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson should be OK to train fully from Saturday although he could miss out. "It is close, but maybe [too] close and not enough time for Swansea – but [after that] he is back and that’s good news." Moreno [ankle] has been training a few days longer, although once again, the game maybe too soon. "He feels it still a little bit – in one or two movements. We will not put any rush on him, but he will be back for sure after Swansea as well – or even maybe [this game], I’m not sure.” Mo Salah and Ragnar Klavan will return to training [on Friday] following illness, however Klopp will need to check on the condition of Dejan Lovren. Virgil van Dijk is “completely fine”. We have a few problems with players feeling ill or unwell. Nathaniel Clyne continues to make good progress from the back problem which has kept him sidelined for the entire campaign. "He is doing well but still a little way to go until he is back in completely normal training.” Karius is set to continue in goal. "I didn't change my opinion, but I've changed the situation now," Klopp said. "But, of course, Loris has to deliver, he knows that, but he's now No. 1 - he can play a game, concede a goal, but all the good things I'd like to see again.'



Ben Dinnery is a leading expert on Premier League injuries and the Founder of Premier Injuries. He is the man behind the PL Injury Table at PhysioRoom.com as well as a contributor of injury commentary to The Huffington Post UK, ESPNFC.com, @MetroUK, @EurosportCom_EN, Fantasy Football Pundits, talkSPORT and @bbc5live. He can be found on Twitter @BenDinnery.
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