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Laurent Koscielny
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Team News

Late Fitness Check GW27

by Ben Dinnery

The Carabao Cup final on Sunday means that for the first time this season we have a reduced slate. Manchester City face off against Chelsea leaving Everton and Brighton with a few additional days to prepare for their midweek fixtures in Round 28.

Team news will be updated throughout Friday with a further eight press conferences still to come.

Follow the entire Rotoworld Premier League team on Twitter: Neal | Steve | Andrew | Sean | Stag | Ben | Nik

 

Cardiff City – vs – Watford

Neil Warnock was giving nothing away ahead of the meeting with Watford. "We’ve got two or three niggles [but] we’re optimistic one or two might be doing full training. I don’t really want to play anyone who’s not 100 per cent. We’re not far from a full squad." Sean Morrison is closing in on a return to play. "He had another tough session [on Wednesday], he’s just got to have a bit of football in his locker [but] it’s pointless rushing him with three games in a week - I’m hoping he’ll be involved at some stage. He’s our leader." Camarasa is being managed, but Warnock admits there have been some issues with his parent club (Real Betis): "He has a medical team from Spain that look after him, sometimes we don't agree. It's difficult for Victor because he's got so many people talking to him. It's [an ongoing] calf injury. He's doing most things really well." Kenneth Zohore is working well, and the striker will get his chance. "It’s not just the goal; his attitude has been tremendous. I can’t fault him in the last six weeks; he tried really hard to get back into my good books. He looks as sharp as I’ve ever seen him, and he’ll get his opportunity soon with Niasse not available against Everton."

The Hornets have been boosted by the return Pereyra and Success (both hamstring) who are available for the game on Friday night. “Roberto and Isaac are ready to compete,” confirmed Javi Gracia. Prödl (knee and hamstring) is also in contention for the first time this year. “Sebastian is an option for us at centre-back. It’s always good to have a player of his quality.”  Femenía is the only member of the 26-man squad who is currently injured although he could return at Anfield (GW28). “Kiko is feeling very well in all the training sessions,” said Gracia. “For the next game, it’s impossible, but I think for the game after, he will be ready.” Jose Holebas serves the first game of a two-match ban.

 

West Ham United – vs – Fulham

No fresh injury concerns for West Ham who entertain London-rivals Fulham. "For this game, we have the squad which played most of the [recent] games," revealed Pellegrini. Manuel Lanzini (knee) and Samir Nasri (calf) might be included. "They worked not only today, but they worked the complete week. We will talk [Thursday] with the medical staff, and then we will decide." It looks like the game will come too soon for Fabián Balbuena who is still working his way back from knee surgery.

Claudio Ranieri confirms: “All our players are in good condition," apart from centre-back Alfie Mawson (knee) who "has just started to run.” The update could mean that Havard Nordtveit (metatarsal) is in line for his first appearance since November with another January signing - Lazar Markovic – poised to make his debut for the club. Ryan Sessegnon has impressed in training and Ranieri hinted that the 18-year-old could feature heavily during the run-in.

 

Burnley – vs – Tottenham Hotspur

Sean Dyche confirms Robbie Brady and Johann Berg Gudmundsson are both available to face Tottenham. The wide men missed the win at Brighton with minor muscular problems but should return to the matchday squad. Steven Defour is battling to overcome a persistent calf issue and will meet with a specialist next week to help pinpoint the underlying cause.

Mauricio Pochettino called Harry Kane an "animal" and suggested the striker might return on Saturday. “He is very good. I think we need to assess him in tomorrow’s training session and then decide. But I think he’s doing well, I’m happy with him, and maybe he’s going to be available to be part of the squad." Dele Alli (hamstring) is in the final phase of his recovery. "He's good, we're happy," although Pochettino admits it is difficult to know exactly when the midfielder will return. "Maybe one week, ten days, two weeks. We'll see because we're going to assess him day by day." Ben Davies (groin) is working normally, and a decision on Rose (illness) will be made closer to kick-off. "Danny yesterday was ill. Today's he's better. We'll see because it’s true that you need full energy to play."

 

AFC Bournemouth – vs – Wolverhampton Wanderers

Charlie Daniels returned to the training pitches after missing the 3-0 defeat at Anfield because of personal reasons. The 32-year-old has been the mainstay of the Cherries defence since 2011/12 but he has slipped down the pecking order after picking up a knee injury early in the campaign. Callum Wilson and David Brooks won’t be back until next month while Eddie Howe will give Junior Stanislas (hip flexor) a late fitness test. However, the winger has not been pictured with the group during the build-up to this game. Lewis Cook and Simon Francis (both ACL knee) are ruled out for the remainder of 2018/19, but Nathaniel Clyne returns following his enforced absence against his parent club – Liverpool – in GW26.

Nuno Espírito Santo moved quickly to quell growing concerns that man of the moment Matt Doherty could be set for a spell on the sidelines. The Irishman appeared to suffer a hamstring injury at Ashton Gate in the FA Cup, but the Wolves boss confirmed the problem was impact and he should be fine. "He had a knock and was not able to continue. It was tough, he held on for the maximum he could, but in the end, he had to come off." Diogo Jota is also expected to shake off the minor issue which meant he was rested for the fifth-round tie. "This week, again, in this game [vs Newcastle] he had a knock on the same place, so he didn't train."

 

Newcastle United – vs – Huddersfield Town

Mo Diame, Yoshinori Muto, Karl Darlow, Paul Dummett and Ki Seung-Yung got some much-needed game time in Spain when Newcastle took on CSKA Moscow as part of their warm-weather training camp last week. Everyone involved came through the 1-1 draw unscathed. Jonjo Shelvey is back on the training pitches, and after a difficult few months with injuries, the United treatment room is beginning to clear.  

Chris Löwe and Jonas Lössl have returned to training following illness, but Elias Kachunga has had flu this week, although he did manage some work. Danny Williams (knee) is working on grass again, but he needs more time to recover from a knee ligament injury – possibly 2/3 weeks. “You can’t replace game fitness with training, which is why Hamid Sabiri has been with working with the development squad." Isaac Mbenza (calf) is not due back until the end of March.

 

Leicester City – vs – Crystal Palace

Leicester will be without Daniel Amartey (ankle) and Marc Albrighton (hamstring) who may not play again this season. Papy Mendy is fit after recovering from the groin injury he suffered while warming up at Wembley (GW26). Claude Puel will check on Ben Chilwell and James Maddison in training on Friday. "It is not serious, but we will see tomorrow."

Michy Batshuayi made his full debut in the FA Cup last weekend, but Roy Hodgson could plum for Christian Benteke who is looking to make up for lost time following knee surgery. The Football Association rejected Palace’s appeal against Wilfried Zaha’s additional one-match ban for improper conduct, but the winger is back in contention after serving his suspension. Connor Wickham, Julian Speroni and Pape Souaré are the only confirmed absentees after James Tomkins returned as an unused substitute at the Keepmoat Stadium (vs Doncaster Rovers) last time out.   

 

Arsenal – vs – Southampton

Laurent Koscielny suffered a minor setback in the Europa League on Thursday evening, and the Frenchman may not recover in time. “I think it's precaution and we are going to wait for tomorrow. But I hope he will be okay for Sunday and for the next week. It's muscular; it's not a break. But it was only precaution because he was starting to feel not good,” revealed Unai Emery after the 3-0 win over BATE. Sokratis is back and could be partnered alongside Shkodran Mustafi. The Arsenal squad is beginning to look a lot healthier following the return of Aaron Ramsey and Granit Xhaka, but the Gunners are still without Hector Bellerin, Danny Welbeck and Rob Holding who are focussing on a return in 2019/20. A decision on Ainsley Maitland-Niles (illness) will be made after the final session on Saturday.

Michael Obafemi makes a timely return from the hamstring problem which has kept him out since before Christmas. Ralph Hasenhüttl likes the 18-year-old, but he is unlikely to be handed an instant recall with Shane Long, Charlie Austin and Sam Gallagher all ahead of him in terms of fitness. Stuart Armstrong is in contention after a minor calf strain, but doubts remain over the availability of Mario Lemina who underwent abdominal surgery last month to remedy an ongoing issue.

 

Manchester United – vs – Liverpool

Undoubtedly the game of the weekend, and that includes the Carabao Cup final on Sunday! Jesse Lingard (hamstring) and Anthony Martial (groin) have responded well to treatment, and the pair have an outside chance of making the match, although Ole Gunnar Solskjaer may decide to err on the side of caution with a host of important fixtures coming up. Chris Smalling is looking close to his best after overcoming a broken toe, and with Victor Lindelof, Eric Bailly and Phil Jones all performing well, there is no pressure to rush Marcos Rojo back despite his return to the training pitches. Matteo Darmian and Antonio Valencia shouldn’t be too far away and can be called upon in the coming weeks as United fight on three fronts. 

Suspension kept Virgil Van Dijk out of the 0-0 draw with Bayern Munich, and the Dutchman will return to play alongside Joel Matip with Dejan Lovren (hamstring) struggling for fitness. Joe Gomez won’t be back until March, but Trent Alexander-Arnold could make his first league start in six weeks following 90 minutes in the Champions League. A huge game for Liverpool and one they won’t want to lose with City cranking up the pressure in the title race.