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Team News

Late Fitness Check GW14

by Ben Dinnery

Wolverhampton Wanderers travel to the Cardiff City Stadium on Friday night, and with 12 press conferences still to come, late team news must be factored into your thinking ahead of the deadline.

 

Eden Hazard trained on Wednesday, but Maurizio Sarri suggested that after back and ankle injuries, he may not be in the best condition to start. Kieran Tripper [groin] is close, although with a full midweek programme following quickly on the heels, Pochettino could be tempted to retain Serge Aurier allowing the full-back a few extra days recovery. Raheem Sterling is in fine form, but after 90 minutes in France, the England international is a possible rotation risk. His involvement could depend on the fitness of Bernardo Silva and/or Ilkay Gundogan who face a late fitness test.

 

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Cardiff City – vs – Wolverhampton Wanderers

 

With a busy week of football coming up, the next three matches could define the Bluebirds season. West Ham and Southampton are up next, and Neil Warnock will be looking for at least six points to help move Cardiff away from a congested drop zone after getting to grips with the Premier League. "If we had defended earlier on in the season like we have recently, we’d be in the top half. It was schoolboy errors. The midfield is more disciplined. It’s just getting goals now." Cardiff may be forced into changes, but Warnock wasn’t giving anything away. “We've got two or three little niggles. A couple of the lads picked up knocks on Saturday, one picked up one in training. We'll just have to wait and see what we've got, without going into detail." Nathaniel Mendez-Laing must bide his time following his recovery from a posterior cruciate ligament strain. "He’s doing well. When you’ve had a bad injury, you have to listen to the experts. When you see him in training, you wonder why he isn’t with us, but you have to take your time." Kenneth Zohore is expected to miss out again due to an ongoing calf injury. "He has not responded really, we're disappointed. It seems to be taking an eternity to get right."

 

Ruben Vinagre came in for the injured Jonny [knee ligament] last Sunday, but it was a bad weekend for Wolves losing 2-0 at home to Huddersfield. A disappointing first half performance saw Ivan Cavaleiro and Moutinho hooked at the break, and Nuno Espírito Santo may look to ring the changes on the back of no wins - or clean sheets - in five.

 

 

Crystal Palace – vs – Burnley

 

Palace will take confidence from a 0-0 draw at Old Trafford to halt a run of three straight defeats [all competitions]. However, it’s their home form which is the cause of greater concern having failed to win any of their six games so far – just 2pts on the board. Wilfried Zaha is fit again and is due one after more than two months without a goal. Striking options are limited, although Christian Benteke is making “exceptionally good progress” from knee surgery and Connor Wickham [thigh] recently took part in his first training session after recovering from his latest setback. Scott Dann re-joined the group on Monday, but Roy Hodgson won’t take any risks with the defender.

 

Johann Berg Gudmundsson had overcome a calf problem in time to face Newcastle, only for illness to rule the winger out of the game at the last moment. He will, however, be back for this one. Ben Gibson and James Tarkowski - both hernia - played in a behind-closed doors training game on Tuesday and Sean Dyche will make a late call on their involvement. Stephen Ward [knee] and Nick Pope [shoulder] are making “good progress” and will return in December.

 

 

Huddersfield Town – vs – Brighton and Hove Albion

 

Terence Kongolo is a doubt. “Unfortunately, he picked up a knock in the Wolves game. At the moment it is 50/50. Maybe a bit worse." Laurent Depoitre has a groin problem and faces a late test, but Chris Löwe [shoulder] is the only player definitely ruled out of the game. Mathias 'Zanka' Jorgensen will return to the starting XI. The 28-year-old missed out at Molineux due to suspension. "He looks good and sharp. Hopefully he can continue to perform on a high level.”

 

Chris Hughton says "it's great" to have Pascal Gross back with the squad following his return after 12 weeks out. "He's a fit lad and he's another versatile player for us." Brighton have "no additional injury concerns" from the draw with 0-0 with Leicester City. Glenn Murray [thigh] and Mat Ryan [ankle] are available after picking up minor knocks. "Alireza Jahanbakhsh is still out and Dale Stephens is suspended."

 

 

Leicester City – vs – Watford

 

Harry Maguire [knee] looks set to miss out, but there was better news regarding Jamie Vardy who has fully recovered from a niggling groin problem. The talismanic Leicester City striker is poised to lead the line against Watford after changing the game from the bench at Brighton. James Maddison returns from suspension, but a leg injury threatens to keep Rachid Ghezzal on the sidelines. Vicente Iborra will be assessed after picking up a knee injury, but Daniel Amartey [ankle] remains in the treatment room.

 

Holebas has recovered from the calf injury that kept him out against Liverpool. “José is ready,” said Javi Gracia. “He didn't train the first day of this week, but the second he did, and he is available.” The Hornets treatment room is almost clear with only Adalberto Peñaranda definitely missing. "He had a little pain in his foot. Maybe one, two or three days he will be available. The rest of the players are fit for the next game." Daryl Janmaat played 45-minutes for the U23s as he steps up his recovery from knee surgery while Tom Cleverley [Achilles] is working as normal. "Maybe [not] in the best condition, but [he is] training with the team every day.”

 

 

Manchester City – vs – AFC Bournemouth

 

Kevin De Bruyne could miss the next three Premier League fixtures as he continues his recovery from a knee ligament injury. A return against Hoffenheim in the Champions League – on December 12 - would see the Belgian back within his initial return-to-play timeline of 5/6 weeks despite reports suggesting an early return. Pep said on Tuesday that Bernardo Silva was “in the last step before being fit,” and the Portugal star should be close. A late decision will be made on Gabriel Jesus and Ilkay Gundogan – groin and foot respectively – after the pair missed the 2-2 draw with Lyon. Claudio Bravo [Achilles] and Benjamin Mendy [knee] will return in the early part of 2019.

 

Apart from Adam Smith - ruled out until next year after undergoing knee surgery – the Cherries have a clean bill of health. Jefferson Lerma collected his fifth caution of the season against Arsenal and the Colombian will sit this one out. Lewis Cook could return to the side.

 

 

Newcastle United – vs – West Ham United

 

Jamaal Lascelles [shoulder], Yoshinori Mutō [calf] and Karl Darlow [elbow] were all pictured on the training pitches on Wednesday and could come back into contention. However, Rafa Benitez is unlikely to tinker with his side too much after winning three games on the spin. Jonjo Shelvey – an unused substitute at Turf Moor - continues to build fitness following his recent absence. Florian Lejeune remains a long-term absentee but the centre-back is training with the group and won’t be too far away from a first-team recall. Paul Dummett [hamstring] is expected to miss out meaning Ciaran Clark could retain his place as one of three centre-halves.

 

Manuel Pellegrini confirmed Marko Arnautovic finished last weekends’ game “with a pain” after taking a heavy knock on his hip, although it looks as though the Austrian will recover in time for the trip to Tyneside. “He worked the whole week without any problems. He has one day more to recover for the game, but he's OK. Marko is fit to play.” Former Magpie Andy Carroll is primed for his comeback after returning to the bench last weekend, however any involvement will be as a substitute after missing more than six months. Jack Wilshere [ankle surgery] has returned to full training and is pushing to be included in the traveling squad. Andriy Yarmolenko, Winston Reid, Carlos Sánchez, Ryan Fredericks and Manuel Lanzini have been ruled out until 2019.

 

 

Southampton – vs – Manchester United

 

Mark Hughes confirms Southampton are still missing Danny Ings because of the hamstring injury he picked up at Watford. "We hoped to get him back at some point this week," but the striker suffered a minor setback. Ryan Bertrand is struggling with back problem which has flared up again. "We’ve managed it in the past but it’s giving him a bit of anxiety at the moment, so he hasn’t trained for a number of days. We’re hopeful we can get him out training tomorrow but he’s a little bit of a doubt. If he misses this game, then we hope we’ll have him available for Wednesday.” Shane Long [ankle] and Sam Gallagher [hamstring] remain out for the foreseeable. Oriol Romeu has slipped behind Pierre-Emile Højbjerg and Mario Lemina in the pecking order and will work with the Under-23s.

 

José Mourinho made six changes to the side in the Champions League on Tuesday night, while some were through necessity, others were the result of another toothless display at Old Trafford. Marcus Rashford had his chance to shine with Romelu Lukaku stepping aside, but some wayward finishing saw the England international waste yet more gilt-edged chances. Luke Shaw returns after his ban but Victor Lindelof [groin] is out for around a month. “I hope that he can play around Christmas time, when we have accumulation of matches. I would say three weeks, or something like that.” Marcos Rojo and Matteo Darmian have minor ailments while Diogo Dalot has returned to full training. The absence of Alexis Sánchez midweek is indicative of his poor season, and if the latest press reports are to be believed, the Chilean wants out in January.

 

Late news: Alexis Sánchez suffered a hamstring injury in training today which is expected to keep him out for several weeks.

 

 

Chelsea – vs – Fulham

 

Victor Moses missed the Europa League on Thursday night because of a back issue, but Maurizio Sarri doesn’t believe the problem is serious. However, the 27-year-old has rarely threatened a start this term – only two appearances from the bench – so his absence won’t be greatly missed. Eden Hazard played down concerns earlier this week of a major setback. "My injury, I think, is not something bad," he said following the defeat to Tottenham. "I think I just twisted my ankle, but it’s like every game, it’s the same. I am used to [it] and I will be back soon." Those sentiments were echoed by the Coach who revealed the Belgium star "should" be able to play against Fulham, although it may be from the bench. "I am worried that Hazard had a back injury and now ankle. He has lost a lot of training, so it is normal he is not at the top of his physical condition. He cannot play 10 matches in 30 days, so sometimes he has to rest."

 

The Lilywhites will be hoping to make it back-to-back wins after edging a five-goal thriller against Southampton. Aleksandar Mitrovic stole the plaudits following a brilliant display. "For me, he is one of the best strikers in Europe,” Claudio Ranieri gushed. “When I say in Europe, I say all the world. He's only 24 years old, he's a fantastic player and it is important to give the ball to him." Kevin McDonald and Andre Zambo Anguissa will be assessed – there are no other expected absentees.

 

 

Arsenal – vs – Tottenham Hotspur

 

Lucas Torreira was withdrawn as a precaution against Bournemouth and the diminutive South American will be okay for the north London derby. "He was a little tired and that there was a possibility [he could get injured],” said Unai Emery post-match. “We have to be clever because he played with the national team for two matches and sometimes you need to listen to the players when they need rest." The Arsenal boss also confirmed that the decision to bench Mesut Ozil was tactical. “[Bringing him on] depended on how the match was going in 90 minutes, and I decided for another option.” Stephan Lichtsteiner is ready after playing in the Europa League and Alexandre Lacazette [groin] has returned to full training after testing protocols flagged him as a concern prior to the trip to Bournemouth. The club decided to err on the side of caution ahead of a busy fixture period. Laurent Koscielny is pushing for first-team action after playing 45 minutes for the development side against Derby County on Monday night. He first run out since rupturing his Achilles back in May. Nacho Monreal and Dinos Mavropanos will return next month after suffering setbacks.

 

Jan Vertonghen made his first start since September against Inter Milan on Wednesday and the Belgium defender will be hoping to rekindle his Premier League partnership with his international teammate Toby Alderweireld. Davinson Sánchez [hamstring] could be out for the remainder of 2018, but there is good news for Kieran Trippier [groin] who is very close to a return - Danny Rose is available, although he lacks match fitness. A knee injury will keep Victor Wanyama on the sidelines while Mousa Dembele [ankle] is back in the Training Centre after completing his first phase of rehab at Aspetar in Qatar.

 

 

 

Liverpool – vs – Everton

 

Joe Gomez is available after missing the win at Watford having picked up a late training ground injury - the England international started in the Champions League on Wednesday. Trent Alexander-Arnold was an unused substitute in Paris, and after his superb free-kick at Vicarage Road, the young defender looks to be a nailed-on starter. Sadio Mane is fine after overcoming illness, but Sunday is likely to come too soon for Adam Lallana who only returned to full training on Thursday. Dominic Solanke is struggling with a groin injury and Divock Origi is also doubtful. Captain Jordan Henderson will miss the derby following his dismissal in week 13.

 

The Toffees have been catapulted up-to sixth after winning five of their last seven and Marco Silva’s side look capable of causing an upset. Gylfi Sigurdsson and Richarlison offer Everton’s biggest threat going forward and the pair will be fresh following a full week of training. Yerry Mina should keep his place after the unfortunate Kurt Zouma dropped out in game week twelve as he was unable to face his parent club.