Ben Dinnery

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Late Fitness Check GW26

Friday, February 2, 2018

Teams involved in midweek action should come with a fantasy health warning, or more specifically, those sides playing on a Wednesday, because in some incidences, squads are still being assessed when managers are required to speak ahead of their next game. Southampton, West Brom and Stoke for example, had less than 17 hours between the conclusion of Round 25 and their media commitments ahead of game week twenty-six.


Minimise disruption to your XI by carrying at least two playing subs on your bench, believe me, they will come in handy. Thank me later.


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Burnley – vs – Manchester City

Sean Dyche confirms Steven Defour is likely to be out for the rest of the campaign. The Clarets midfielder is scheduled for surgery on Monday to repair damaged knee cartilage. A groin injury will keep James Tarkowski out, but Stephen Ward is “going well” and he could return to the squad. Chris Wood [knee] is edging closer to a return, however, Dean Marney suffered a minor medial ligament strain in training and won’t be available for a few weeks. Tom Heaton is working with the goalkeeper coach.


David Silva couldn't train on Thursday. "He was recovering,” confirmed Guardiola following a painful kick in the side [vs West Brom]. “We will see how he feels [ahead of the game]." Pep expects Benjamin Mendy [ACL] to rejoin the group in March while Gabriel Jesus will be another month [at least]. There was no mention of a setback, but the Brazilian was originally targeting a return in the Champions League [Feb 13] and is way behind schedule. John Stones [illness] will be included in the matchday squad.



AFC Bournemouth – vs – Stoke City

Eddie Howe confirms Adam Smith remains sidelined. "He sat out against Chelsea in midweek after picking up a thigh problem away at West Ham. We don't think it's very serious and he should be in contention very soon." Everyone else is OK, bar the long-term absentees Tyrone Mings and Jermain Defoe. "We're pretty much as we were ahead of the Stoke City game," he said.


No fresh injury concerns following the 0-0 draw with Watford. “Everyone came through yesterday fine,” said Paul Lambert. A late decision will be made on Badou Ndiaye who will train for the first time on Friday. “He will give us something different that we don't have and will be a big player for us. We'll assess him tomorrow ahead of Saturday." Saido Berahino is likely to be limited to a role from the bench until his fitness improves. "He knows where the goal is, but I think he’s got to get a little bit fitter.”



Brighton and Hove Albion – vs – West Ham United

Chris Hughton is pleased with his new January additions - Leonardo Ulloa and Jürgen Locadia – as the Seagulls boost their attacking options. The Leicester loanee is said to be "hungry and desperate for minutes" following his move. "Everyone here knows him well and he's a player who has played in the Premier League over the last few seasons." Meanwhile, Locadia [hamstring] trained for the first time on Thursday, however, this weekend is too soon after more than 6-weeks on the sidelines. Ankle injuries keep Jiří Skalák and Steve Sidwell in the Brighton treatment room.


Moyes says Antonio has a chance of being available for Brighton. The winger was omitted from the matchday squad on Tuesday after turning up late for a team meeting. “It wasn’t the first time [and] I’m not having it at the club.” Winston Reid "is coming on a bit" but Jose Fonte is unlikely to be involved despite his appearance on the bench [vs Palace] – this was due to a lack of numbers and the defender will benefit from "a couple of reserve games" to help build fitness. Manuel Lanzini "has a tear in his hamstring" but his latest Instagram post suggests he may return sooner than originally anticipated. Marko Arnautovic has a chance for GW27. "The injury has improved a lot. If it goes like that this week and next week, hopefully I'll be back then." Pedro Obiang is out for an extended period having sustained a medial ligament injury. “He's not done anything to his cruciate which is good news,” but early reports suggest at least 2-3 months. Arthur Masuaku is just one game into his a six-match ban for spitting at Wigan midfielder Nick Powell.



Leicester City – vs – Swansea City

Wes Morgan [hamstring] took part in a "little training session" on Friday morning. "That's good news. He'll be available for games later [in the season] because he needs [sessions] to get match fit." No Riyad Mahrez in the Leicester squad this weekend. The wantaway winger has missed training after he failed to secure a move to Man City on deadline day. "I hope for Riyad he can clear his head and he can come back with us because he’s a valuable player. We need to stay united after all this."


Renato Sanches is ruled out of the trip to Leicester. However, the returning Andre Ayew could be added to the squad, although he will have a niggling hamstring problem checked first. Andy King will not feature - he is ineligible under the terms of his loan agreement. Barring injury, Carlos Carvalhal is expected to name an unchanged side on the back of victories over Liverpool and Arsenal.



Manchester United – vs – Huddersfield Town

Mourinho is hoping Zlatan Ibrahimović and Eric Bailly can return soon. "They are working on the pitch but not with [the] group. I want to believe that by Champions League time, around the end of the month, they will be back." Fellaini is ruled out following a recurrence of his recent knee injury [medial ligament]. "I don't have good news.... We are going to lose him for a few weeks. Two, three four or five, I cannot say at the moment. It's not an ACL. It's not a complete rupture of any structure of the knee.”


Danny Williams fails to recover from the dead leg which kept him out [vs Liverpool]. Chris Löwe "has some slight groin problems" while Elias Kachunga and Jon Stanković are still working their way back from long-term knee injuries. Terence Kongolo is available after falling ill on Tuesday. The Monaco loanee was taken to hospital that evening for “some checks" but David Wagner said the defender managed some light work on Thursday, before training with the squad again 24 hours later.



West Bromwich Albion – vs – Southampton

Alan Pardew wasn't giving much away ahead of Saturdays’ game.... Jake Livermore, Jonny Evans, Kieran Gibbs and Hal Robson-Kanu all missed Wednesdays' defeat at The Etihad having picked up hamstring related injuries in the FA Cup. Grzegorz Krychowiak [thigh] will be assessed following a Fernandinho stamp / challenge which forced the midfielder off – referee Bobby Madley saw the incident as accidental and the Brazilian will not face retrospective action. Nacer Chadli and James Morrison are ruled out.


Manolo Gabbiadini was unable to train on Thursday and faces a late fitness test. “He is with the doctor now,” revealed Pellegrino. “He feels some pain in his hip and we will decide tomorrow.” Guido Carrillo could make his first start following his big money move from Monaco. Charlie Austin [hamstring] remains out - the Saints have no other injury concerns.



Arsenal – vs – Everton

Jack Wilshere missed the defeat at Swansea due to illness and the in-form midfielder will be assessed on Friday. Henrikh Mkhitaryan is pencilled in to start but Wenger may have to wait a little longer to see record signing Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang link-up with his former teammate because of sickness. Wenger describes the 28-year-old as a "typical striker" who can replace the ‘some’ of goals lost following the departure of Giroud, Walcott and Sanchez. "Great pace and a good ratio between games played and goals scored." The match will come too soon for Danny Welbeck.


Sam Allardyce describes the performance of Seamus Coleman on Wednesday night as "almost super-human" following his return from a long-term injury. “I have never seen anybody come back from 10-months out and perform like that for 90-minutes." The Republic of Ireland international will be assessed on Friday, although Coleman insists he is fine. Eliaquim Mangala will be added to the matchday squad following his arrival from Man City, however, Ademola Lookman won’t be included after joining German outfit RB Leipzig on-loan. Theo Walcott will feel he has a point to prove on his return to The Emirates. Leighton Baines could be back in February. "It is difficult to say exactly, [but] I would have thought... end of this month, with any luck. Then you have to get game time and training time."



Crystal Palace – vs – Newcastle United

Roy Hodgson needs new signing Alexander Sørloth to hit the ground running following the news that Bakary Sako is out for the season. "He was a target for the whole window, so we're happy we managed to persuade him to join. We hope he's going to be very good." However, a lack of match-fitness may delay his integration into the first-team. "We knew what we were signing. He'll need a little bit of time to adjust, he's not played competitively since November, but we have a two-week break coming up where he can get his feet under the table." Sako has damaged ligaments and fractured his ankle. "He certainly won't play again this season and may be a doubt for the start of next."


Islam Slimani was working with the club physio on Friday having arrived on Tyneside with a small thigh injury. The Leicester loanee is hoping to train fully on Saturday and faces a late fitness test. Rafa praises Kenedy after his performance against Burnley. "We knew about his quality. But at the same time, we know he is a young player. He has to carry on with the same attitude and confidence. If he does, he will give us something different." Rob Elliot has been pictured back on the training pitches, while another goalkeeper – Slovakia international Martin Dúbravka - is also available.



Liverpool – vs – Tottenham Hotspur

Nathaniel Clyne is said to be "in a really good way" but he's not ready for a first-team return just yet. The defender has been included in the Champions League squad, although Klopp admits he has "no chance" of playing in the next round against Porto. Adam Lallana returned to training on Friday but ideally, he won't be involved this weekend - better to wait until next Sunday when Liverpool take on Southampton. The Liverpool boss is pleased with van Dijk but believes supporters won't see the best of him until next season. "The defending style is different to Southampton and Holland, so it makes sense you get used to it." Klopp is unconcerned by the recent dip in Mane’s form. "Even an average day is still a good player, and that's the good news."


For the first time this season Tottenham are reporting a fully-fit squad. Serge Aurier [calf] and Harry Winks [ankle] are the latest players to rejoin the main group following injury. Lucas Moura plans to train with his new teammates on Saturday, but he is expected to miss the game at Anfield. "We signed a player who has not competed for 6-7 months. The expectation is that he can help us [until the end of season] but we cannot put too much pressure on him. He’s young, with a lot of [big club] experience, and previously scored a lot of goals. He’s fast, can run forward and can link with the team perfectly." Toby Alderweireld and Danny Rose are being assessed day-to-day but Pochettino stresses there is big difference between being fit enough for training and being fit enough to start competitive matches.



Watford – vs – Chelsea 

A late decision will be made on the availability of Tom Cleverley [hamstring] who limped off on his return against Stoke. Javi Gracia also confirmed that Heurelho Gomes, Craig Cathcart and Younès Kaboul are not yet ready to return. "But I hope, like the other players who are injured, that they will be back soon." New signing Didier Ndong will not be considered as he serves the final game of a three-match suspension incurred at Sunderland. Miguel Britos, Kiko Femenía and Will Hughes remain sidelined.


Alvaro Morata [back] is still injured and Conte hopes the medical department can remedy the problem soon. "It is not a good situation for me or for the team." Good news on Andreas Christensen [hamstring] - his initial examination was positive, but the defender will miss the game at Watford. The return of David Luiz provides a welcome boost although Antonio Rudiger is expected to deputise. A couple of other players need to be checked before the game. Giroud could start on the bench meaning Hazard will lead the Chelsea attack. "Olivier is coming from a muscular injury and he was out for 50 days before he played for 15 minutes against Swansea." There will also be a late decision on Emerson who has played just once in the league [for Roma] this season [15 minutes] since recovering from a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament.

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 as well as a contributor of injury commentary to The Huffington Post UK,, @MetroUK, @EurosportCom_EN, Fantasy Football Pundits, talkSPORT and @bbc5live. He can be found on Twitter @BenDinnery.
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