Ben Dinnery

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Late Fitness Check GW20

Saturday, December 23, 2017


With no press conferences scheduled ahead of the Boxing Day fixtures [GW20] it makes sense to get this up nice and early. However, a word of caution, please sure you continue to check theHeadlinesandInjury Tableas updates will be added when further news becomes available.  

 

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Tottenham Hotspur – vs – Southampton


Mauricio Pochettino made four changes to the side that lost at Manchester City. Defender Davinson Sanchez returned after his three-match ban while Serge Aurier and Ben Davies came in for Kieran Trippier and Danny Rose which means the pair could be rotated again on Boxing Day. Harry Winks was absent due to a minor ankle problem, but the midfielder stands a good chance of returning. Eric Dier was replaced late on at Turf Moor - just minutes after he went down holding his calf – and he will be assessed. Victor Wanyama hopes to feature in the festive programme following a return to full training.

 

Pellegrino made a raft of changes for the visit of Huddersfield, some of which were enforced. Cedric Soares [ankle] won’t be back until January but there was better news regarding Ryan Bertrand [hamstring] who may feature before the end of the year. Leading goal scorer – Charlie Austin – is ruled out. The striker could miss “two or three weeks minimum" due to a hamstring strain while he may also face retrospective action for a bad challenge on goalkeeper Jonas Lössl. The Saints boss confirmed the decision to omit Virgil van Dijk from the matchday squad was tactical amid reports of a January move to Liverpool or Man City. "We will see in training [on Christmas Eve] and decide if he can be involved."

 

 

AFC Bournemouth – vs – West Ham United


Further tests reveal Jermain Defoe suffered a fracture of his right ankle in the Carabao Cup defeat at Chelsea on Wednesday and the 35-year-old could miss between eight to ten weeks. Despite the 4-0 loss, Eddie Howe thought the Cherries “did okay” at the Etihad although with a growing injury list it was always going to be a big ask against the runaway leaders. “We have seven players [injured], well eight now with Junior [Stanislas] limping off, we've got big players missing.” The Bournemouth winger is rated as a major doubt. No Simon Francis on Saturday but the defender could return to the squad. Harry Arter [calf], Charlie Daniels [groin] and Josh King [hamstring] are not seriously injured but with such a quick turnaround between matches – none are expected to recover.

 

West Ham missed influential playmaker Manual Lanzini against Newcastle, but the little Argentine will be back after serving a two-game ban. David Moyes’ is also hoping Mark Noble can return - the captain has been complaining of a tight hamstring all week. Michail Antonio went into Saturdays’ game with a calf problem and the attacker will be checked again after being replaced before the hour mark. Jose Fonte, Fernandes and Sam Byram won’t be ready until early 2018, otherwise the Hammers should have everyone else at their disposal.  

 

 

Chelsea – vs – Brighton and Hove Albion


Alvaro Morata will be back amongst the ranks after collecting his fifth yellow of the campaign in the Cup. The return of the Spaniard should see Eden Hazard drop a little deeper after he was the preferred option in attack with Michy Batshuayi on the bench. David Luiz is being assessed day-to-day, but the Brighton match will come too soon. Gary Cahill is expected to return to the side – possibly at the expense of Rudiger.

 

A niggling knee injury means Gaetan Bong struggles to play games in quick succession and having missed the win over Watford he should be in contention. Shane Duffy is available after serving a one match ban. Steve Sidwell [back] is the only confirmed Seagull’s injury absentee.

 

 

Huddersfield Town – vs – Stoke City


Elias Kachunga, Michael Hefele, Jon Stankovic and Philip Billing are all long-term casualties, but David Wagner will have Jonathan Hogg back in the squad. A bruised foot restricted Chris Lowe to place on the bench, however following another two-days recovery, he’ll be looking to oust Scott Malone from the left-back spot.

 

Kurt Zouma is available after overcoming a hamstring strain but Tom Edwards may have to deputise for Eric Pieters again who is struggling to shake off a hip injury. Jese Rodriguez is training with the group, and if he can prove his fitness, he should be included in the 18. Bruno Martins Indi is better than expected although it’s likely to be mid-January before he’s available.

 

 

Manchester United – vs – Burnley


Mourinho made a raft of changes from the side beaten at Bristol City, but only three from the team which won at West Brom in GW18. A hamstring injury is likely to rule Antonio Valencia out while Matteo Darmian faces a late test after picking up an unspecified knock on Wednesday. Marouane Fellaini and Michael Carrick are not available for the Christmas period. Chris Smalling [groin] limped through the closing stages of the 2-2 draw at Leicester and the centre-back needs to be checked.

 

Sean Dyche made one enforced change for the visit of Tottenham – Kevin Long in for the suspended James Tarkowski – and it was the defender who helped the visitors on their way when he caught Dele Alli in the box. Harry Kane slotted home the penalty. Jon Walters was back on the Clarets bench and Dean Marney isn’t far away from making the matchday 18. Chris Wood took a whack on the knee in a challenge with Hugo Lloris and the New Zealand international is rated as 50/50 – Ashley Barnes and Sam Vokes are well-placed to come in if he does miss out. Boxing Day is too soon for Stephen Ward.

 

 

Watford – vs – Leicester City


The Hornets are on a downward curve having seen their squad decimated in recent weeks. "We are stronger with everybody available. We have three banned, and five injured. There's been a lot of change in our starting XI so it’s not easy,” said Marco Silva. Fortunately, Abdoulaye Doucouré and Marvin Zeegelaar are back from suspension and Miguel Britos [foot] should feature in the festive programme although it remains unclear whether ha can make Boxing Day. Isaac Success is still having problems with his knee - but he shouldn’t be too far away. No Will Hughes [hamstring] on Saturday despite the early optimism from Silva – a failed late test suggests he is close to making the bench. Of the rest, Kiko Femenía is probably closest, while everyone else is scheduled to comeback in January.

 

A last-gasp equaliser against Man United helped Leicester bounce back from a 3-0 home defeat to Palace - the result was even more pleasing following the exertions of extra-time and penalties midweek. Robert Huth and Matty James are training – but neither is ready – while Danny Simpson felt his calf on Saturday and he is an early doubt. Should he miss out, then Claude Puel must consider his options after Daniel Amartey was shown two yellows following his introduction from the bench.

 

 

West Bromwich Albion – vs – Everton


Matty Phillips travelled with the squad to Stoke but Alan Pardew decided against risking the winger following a stint out due to a hamstring injury. However, the game did mark the return of Craig Dawson [unused substitute] and Nacer Chadli who ended the day on a sour note. The Belgium international was returning after more than month on the sidelines but lasted just 15 minutes after suffering a possible recurrence. "He's trained for nine or ten days and we felt he was really good to go,” said the Baggies boss. "We'd taken special care and taken longer with him so to lose him after he came on was probably as disappointing as the result.”

 

Top-scorer Wayne Rooney was a late withdrawal due to illness against Chelsea, one of three changes made by Sam Allardyce for the visit of the Champions. Tom Davies replaced the former England captain while defenders Michael Keane and Phil Jagielka came in for Mason Holgate and Ashley Williams. Idrissa Gueye suffered a hamstring injury which is serious enough to mean he could miss the next 4-games. Beni Baningime, Tom Davies and Mo Besic will compete for a place in the XI on Boxing Day. Allardyce is unlikely to risk Jagielka. "I don’t think I will be considering him for West Brom," he said. "This time will be demanding but some players will have to step up to the mark." Ross Barkley is due to return – barring a setback – in early January.

 

 

Liverpool – vs – Swansea City


Jordan Henderson [hamstring] has been ruled out of the Boxing Day clash with Swansea City. The Liverpool skipper “will not feature for sure,” confirmed Jürgen Klopp after he limped off at the Emirates. No fresh concerns following the 3-3 draw vs Arsenal. “[It’s] not too cool but I heard nobody else [is injured], a few knocks as it always is, but they should be OK again. That’s the situation.” Daniel Sturridge [illness] and Joel Matip [thigh] have trained and were unlucky to miss out in GW19 – both have a chance.

 

Caretaker player-manager Leon Britton made two changes for his first game in charge, both enforced, but at least one could return. Leroy Fer is expected to recover from a back injury although Monday is probably too soon for Bony who will miss between 7-10 days. Ki Sung-Yeung [calf] is closing in on a return while Kyle Bartley [knee] has re-joined the main group in training.

 

 

Newcastle United – vs – Manchester City


Henri Saivet was a surprise inclusion at West Ham after Mikel Merino and Isaac Hayden failed to recover from “little problems.” However, an additional recovery day should help, and the pair have a chance. That said, Rafa may stick with the same XI following Newcastle’s first win in ten. Jonjo Shelvey is available after his ban. No Florian Lejeune in the squad on Saturday as Ciaran Clark came into the defence – assume his omission was tactical as there was no mention during the pre-match press conference or after the game.

 

City are cruising to the title and the Geordies will do well to keep it respectable on current form. Despite media reports suggesting that Sergio Aguero is unhappy at the club, he looked in fine fettle against Bournemouth, grabbing two and laying on an assist for Raheem Sterling. David Silva was back in the side after missing the last two due to ‘personal reasons’ while captain Vincent Kompany was also included on Saturday. John Stones is edging nearer but given the availability [and form] of Otamendi and Mangala, there’s no need for Pep to rush the centre-back.  

 

 

Crystal Palace – vs – Arsenal  


Palace followed up a 3-0 win at Leicester with a draw versus Swansea. Christian Benteke – suspended on Saturday – is available and it remains to be seen whether Roy Hodgson hands the striker a recall whose form has been on the up in recent games. The Eagles boss had hinted that Bakary Sako was ready for a start, but he opted instead to bring in midfielder Luka Milivojevic with Wilfried Zaha and Andros Townsend playing as a front two. Joel Ward will be checked but Fosu-Mensah is back in contention after recovering from a minor hamstring strain.

 

Arsène Wenger reveals why he chose Maitland-Niles over Sead Kolasinac on Friday. “His pace is the main reason why he played, and I think as well his recovery runs are very good, he has shown that a few times.” And, after a shaky start, the youngster grew into the game with a much improved second half performance. Shkodran Mustafi replaced the injured Nacho Monreal [ankle], and even if he can recover in time, Wenger may prefer to keep the German in the starting XI. No Aaron Ramsey or Olivier Giroud [both hamstring]. 



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.
Email :Ben Dinnery





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