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Late Fitness Check GW29

Friday, March 2, 2018


The Beast from the East has thus far, proved to be no match for the Premier League with all 10 scheduled matches planned to go ahead [at the time of writing!]. The winter cold snap has well and truly arrived here in the UK but while undersoil heating ensures playing surfaces remain in pristine condition, travel is proving to be a logistical nightmare.

 

The inclement weather is wreaking havoc with the public transport system and major motorway routes have been backed up - the Met Office is urging against non-essential travel. The forecast is expected to improve over the next 24 hours, but there are no guarantees of a full slate in game week twenty-nine.

 

As always, we will endeavour to do our best to keep you fully informed ahead of your various fantasy deadlines, so make sure you’re following the entire Rotoworld Premier League team on Twitter: Neal | Steve | Andrew | Sean | Stag | Ben | Galin | Nik

 

 

Burnley – vs – Everton


James Tarkowski [groin] is back in contention for the Clarets while Chris Wood is pushing for a start after playing in a behind-closed-doors game on Tuesday. "It was important to get minutes into players this week. It’s speeding up, we’re getting bodies in a bit quicker. They’re in the thinking for the weekend, they’re fit enough to be considered," said Sean Dyche. Tom Heaton is "very, very close" to coming back, however, he is not guaranteed an instant recall with Nick Pope impressing in his absence. Scott Arfield [calf] will have a late fitness test but Jon Walters, Robbie Brady and Steven Defour remain out.

 

Preparations for the trip to Burnley were described as "terrible" due to this weeks’ weather conditions and a frustrated Sam Allardyce confirmed his squad were forced to train indoors again on Friday due to high winds. It's "highly likely" that Eliaquim Mangala will miss the remainder of the campaign after undergoing knee surgery this week. "His injury is going to be a bit more length-wise than we first thought." The Man City defender will remain at Finch Farm throughout the duration of his rehab. Leighton Baines [calf] and Seamus Coleman [thigh] are back in the squad." Phil Jagielka also returns. Funes Mori was expected to be in contention but he is likely to feature for the U23s as he continues to build fitness. Allardyce is hoping McCarthy [double leg fracture] can rejoin the group for pre-season. “It is down to the specialist and them saying when James can start moving forward. [But] the wounds haven’t even healed correctly [and] he is walking so that’s a good sign.” 

 

 

Leicester City – vs – AFC Bournemouth


"All the squad work hard in these conditions, but they can keep warm because they can keep good activity in the pitch. It’s not the same for the staff,” bemoaned Claude Puel. “It’s a difficult situation, with the wind, the feeling is crazy. We need to adapt.” A decision on Shinji Okazaki will be made on Friday following a return to training. "We will see tomorrow if he can come in the squad for the next game. I will see if he is fit for the match." No other injury concerns for the Foxes.

 

Cherries defender Charlie Daniels is available - his withdrawal against Newcastle last weekend was tactical – after the home side found themselves 2-0 down at the break. Jordon Ibe, who missed the game through injury, is back in contention following a run out for the development side. Jermain Defoe is pushing for a start following his cameo from the bench. Tyrone Mings is the only expected absentee and he may not play again in 2017/18 as he continues his recovery from a long-term back complaint. No fresh injury concerns. "Touch wood, everyone should be okay."

 

 

Southampton – vs – Stoke City


No official team news on Friday after the clubs planned press conference was cancelled due to safety concerns. Charlie Austin [hamstring] and Maya Yoshida [knee] won’t be back until later this month but Shane Long and Steven Davies are hoping to be involved after missing the last two matches through injury.

 

Skipper Ryan Shawcross and Peter Crouch [both ankle] trained on Thursday, but back-up goalkeeper Lee Grant will be out for a "few weeks" after he was injured during the warm-up at Leicester. "He has got a little break in his wrist. It has just shown up." Paul Lambert says everyone else is okay although that may not include Stephen Ireland who hasn't featured since January after suffering a calf strain. It’s the same old story for Berahino who has made just 3 Premier League starts this season.... “I just think Saido needs a bit more fitness to his game,” said Lambert. “I think he's an absolutely fantastic, incredible finisher, but you need a bit more at times."

 

 

Swansea City – vs – West Ham United


Swansea have no fresh injury concerns going into clash with West Ham. Andy King and former Hammer Andre Ayew return to the squad after missing the FA Cup win over Sheffield Wednesday [both players were cup-tied]. Britton played for the first time in over 4 months on Tuesday and Carlos Carvalhal admitted "it can be difficult" after such a long time out - especially for older players. "But he is a fit and he did well when he came on. He is training and is available for the next game.” Renato Sanches [hamstring] is probably closest to a return while Angel Rangel isn't too far behind. Leroy Fer [Achilles] and Wilfried Bony [ACL knee] are out for the season.

 

"We're okay [on the injury front]," confirms David Moyes. "We've got a few people with knocks and bruises as all clubs, but overall we're fine." Only long-term absentees are missing through injury - Andy Carroll, Edimilson Fernandes and Pedro Obiang while Arthur Masuaku is four games into a six-match ban. Patrice Evra is fine after he sustained a nasty gash on his shin at Anfield which required stitches.

 


Tottenham Hotspur – vs – Huddersfield Town


Toby Alderweireld remains out with a hamstring problem and continues his rehabilitation work outdoors. Jan Vertonghen has returned to first team training after missing the wins over Palace and Rochdale because of an ankle injury. Pochettino will rotate with one eye on the upcoming Champions League tie versus Juventus.

 

Aaron Mooy [knee laceration] is set to miss out again. "He is better and on the grass with the fitness coaches," confirms Wagner. "He’ll rejoin the training group next week." Philip Billing returns after missing the win at West Brom due to illness. "Some of the longer-term injuries are getting nearer - Elias Kachunga and Jon Gorenc Stankovic could return this month - so we’re in a better position now." Chris Lowe [hamstring] faces a late fitness test.

 

 

Watford – vs – West Bromwich Albion


Javi Gracia has been handed another injury boost with the news that Will Hughes is in contention for the game against West Brom. "He is training with the team, full training. He is available for selection. And, following the return of Kiko Femenía, Miguel Britos and Heurelho Gomes, Javi Gracia confirmed Craig Cathcart is about to rejoin the group - the defender has been out since the away game at Newcastle in November. "We have good news — not only bad," joked the Head Coach. "We are improving, we are recovering many players. We now have more options." Gerard Deulofeu has suffered a stress fracture of the foot but Gracia remains optimistic that the winger will recover before the end of the campaign. “I don't know how long he will be out. It depends on many things. I think he will come back with us before we finish the season." Meanwhile, he was unable to give any returns dates for Tom Cleverley, Christian Kabasele, Nathaniel Chalobah and Younès Kaboul.

 

Alan Pardew says he would be "foolish" not to make changes after last weekends' disappointing home defeat to Huddersfield. Daniel Sturridge will miss the next two matches, but the injury plagued striker is hoping to be back for the Bournemouth game. Nacer Chadli is still working away from the main group. "We need to be careful with him after he broke down the last time he came back from injury. He’ll miss the next couple of games.” No James Morrison either.

 

 

Liverpool – vs – Newcastle United


Ben Woodburn and Gini Wijnaldum have been ill for over a week now. "It's more than a cold," and the pair will miss out on Saturday. No "big" injuries ahead of the late kick-off. Danny Ings is fine but Nathaniel Clyne needs "rhythm" and will continue to build fitness with the development side following his recovery from back surgery. James Milner picked up a heavy knock last time out. "That still hurts a little bit. We will see how that improves. It’s not an injury but it’s a little issue." No fitness concerns with Jordan Henderson.

 

Dwight Gayle and Matt Ritchie have been passed fit but Jonjo Shelvey is "not available". The Newcastle midfielder picked up a knee injury at Bournemouth and has been receiving injections for a groin related problem. "We are waiting on the results of the scans. We don’t know how serious it is. He wants to train and play but we have to check.” Islam Slimani continues to work with the fitness coach, and with the striker expected to miss out again next weekend, the Leicester loanee could play for Algeria before Newcastle. 

 

 

Brighton and Hove Albion – vs – Arsenal


Chris Hughton warns “it may be the worst time to face Arsenal” after the Gunners lost again to champions elect Man City on Thursday evening. Steve Sidwell [ankle and back] is the only Brighton player currently sidelined through injury following the return of Jiri Skalák this week.

 

Wenger needs to assess his squad ahead of the game. "We will have to analyse [the players] medically and see if [they] need rest or not. I have until Sunday to make that decision, but of course we gave a lot [in the Carabao Cup final] and on Thursday night. I have to decide who I rest and who I keep going.” Jack Wilshere is hoping to train on Saturday. "If he can practice tomorrow, then he will be in contention.” Nacho Monreal [back] is missing and faces a race against time to feature in the Europa League clash in Milan. No Lacazette or Santa Cazorla this weekend.

 

 

Manchester City – vs – Chelsea


Pep Guardiola is confident Raheem Sterling can return after missing the last three games due to a hamstring injury, and the early signs are encouraging, after the winger was spotted training with the main group. Benjamin Mendy remains out but could be back ahead of schedule in the Manchester derby [April]. Kyle Walker limped off during the win at Arsenal and he is an early doubt for the game. If he does miss out, then Danilo could switch flanks, with Zinchenko starting at left-back. Fernandinho faces a late test but Fabian Delph is suspended.

 

No fresh injury concerns for Chelsea... David Luiz, Bakayoko and Ethan Ampadu remain out for the Blues. Ross Barkley has taken part in full training and Conte confirms he will be in the squad on Sunday. He also adds that Alvaro Morata needs to work hard to recover his "best form" following a back injury. The Chelsea striker has not scored since the Boxing Day victory over Brighton [10 games]. "He has to have patience and we have to have patience. The only way is to work."

 

 

Crystal Palace – vs – Manchester United


Roy Hodgson said the Palace squad is "quite easy" to manage at the moment because it's relatively small. Up-to 11 players could miss out on Monday. "What is not easy is the fact that we have so many games and so many people in the treatment room." Martin Kelly [hamstring] and Jeffrey Schlupp [knee] have both trained and the Eagles boss is "counting" on the duo being available. However, they are the only returners. Wilfried Zaha is ahead of schedule in his recovery “but, he's not doing the more complicated twisting, turning and contact with other players yet." The winger might make his comeback in game week thirty-one. Fosu-Mensah [ineligible] to face his parent club while Yohan Cabaye [groin] hasn't progressed as expected. James Tomkins is fine after he was forced off with "severe cramp" last Sunday. 

 

Marouane Fellaini is expected to play again in a "couple of weeks," Mourinho confirmed. "If we proceed beyond Sevilla, I think he will be ready for the hypothetical quarter-final, and a hypothetical FA Cup semi-final, and the last couple of months of our Premier League fight." Zlatan Ibrahimović "doesn't feel ready to play yet" due to a problem with his knee with the striker is poised to leave the club at the end of the season. Marcos Rojo, Phil Jones and Daley Blind will all miss out while Ander Herrera is still working his way back from a hamstring strain.



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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