The FA Cup quarter-finals take precedence this weekend as only four Premier League fixtures survive the cull. A very tricky set of games to navigate as managers look for some resemblance of a starting XI by deadline.
Liverpool are the go-to team and thankfully the Reds can pretty much boast a clean bill of health. If Salah isn’t the overwhelming captains pick across all formats, then I’ll eat my hat….
AFC Bournemouth – vs – West Bromwich Albion
Eddie Howe will check on a "few niggling injuries" in training on Friday. A back complaint has restricted Ryan Fraser in recent weeks while Josh King has been suffering from a neck problem. "We'll see how they come through today." Marc Pugh [calf] remains a doubt while Tyrone Mings will not play again this season. The Cherries see this as a must win, and three-points will almost guarantee their top-flight status for another year.
Alan Pardew says his senior players "need to deliver" otherwise the Baggies won’t be in with a shout of staying up. "We didn’t give ourselves a chance last weekend.” Grzegorz Krychowiak has apologised following his reaction at being substituted against Leicester. "He’s been fined, but a line [has been] drawn underneath the issue now." A knee injury will keep Gareth Barry on the sidelines. James Morrison [Achilles] "is still struggling" while Daniel Sturridge and Nacer Chadli are scheduled to rejoin the group from Monday. "Jonny Evans is back and has trained all week.”
Huddersfield Town – vs – Crystal Palace
David Wagner confirms "everything went very well" with Danny Williams’ ankle surgery on Friday morning, although the Terriers boss was quick to point out that the US international will not play again in 2017/18. "Now we all carry the responsibility to make sure he is playing Premier League football for Huddersfield next season.” Elias Kachunga [MCL knee] has been training with the group for more than a week and he is back in contention. Philip Billing is also available after overcoming a minor knee problem. Aaron Mooy is better placed in terms of his fitness following a return in game week thirty. The Aussie international missed the previous month due to a knee laceration which became infected. Terence Kongolo [hip] is ruled out, however “he is back on the grass with the fitness coaches, and if all goes to plan, [he will be ready to face Newcastle]." Sean Scannell [shoulder] is expected to return after the international break, but Michael Hefele will miss around 6-weeks after undergoing knee surgery to repair cartilage damage.
Roy Hodgson will consider his set-up once he knows which players are available: "We can play either system [4-4-2 / 4-3-3], I don't have a particular preference for one over the other." The Palace matchday 18 will be a lot stronger this week: "It's been good to get players back from injury. We're looking at a fuller squad, if not a full squad. Very happy about that. Wilfried Zaha, Mamadou Sakho and Yohan Cabaye are all fit." Ruben Loftus-Cheek has returned after recovering from an ankle injury: “[I'm] happy to get back in the swing of things, and now I want to get back playing as soon as possible. My right ankle took a little bit of a fracture and it has taken a while but thankfully I am back now and that is the good thing." This weekend is too soon for Connor Wickham who made his long-awaited return [472 days since suffering a ruptured ACL] with a 20-minute cameo for the development side on Tuesday.
Stoke City – vs – Everton
Paul Lambert says Mame Diouf "has a slight chance" of featuring against Everton. The Senegalese striker has responded well to treatment after dislocating his shoulder at Southampton two-weeks ago. "We are going to have to have a look at him over the next day or so." If he does miss out, then Stoke do have other options. Peter Crouch is over his recent ankle injury while Berahino, Jese and Choupo-Moting will all come into the managers plans. "There are a few decisions to be made before kick-off and there are a few areas of the pitch that we may need to shake things up in a little bit." Ramadan Sobhi is one of those who could benefit: "He is enthusiastic and has really good attributes - he has good speed and he has a lot to learn, so he is really in my thinking for the game.” The Potters have "one or two knocks" from the 2-0 defeat to Man City on Monday. "We will assess things tomorrow, but we aren't too bad." Lee Grant [broken wrist] remains on the sidelines.
Late News: Xherdan Shaqiri faces a late fitness test after suffering a calf injury during the defeat by Manchester City on Monday.
Sam Allardyce is hoping Gylfi Sigurdsson can return sooner than predicted on the club’s website. The Icelandic star was said to be missing for between 6-8 weeks after damaging knee ligaments during the win over Brighton – a timeline the Everton boss was clearly unhappy with: “Whoever gave that statement out is going to get a right telling off because you cannot predict a length of injury in its entirety," he said. "You have people who heal quicker. We've got a highly qualified medical staff and equipment to try and speed up any injury.” His absence may provide Davy Klaassen with a chance to come in from the cold: "It's been a struggle since he arrived, and since I've been here. If he does get the opportunity, hopefully he will shine and achieve what he did at Ajax." Idrissa Gueye and Morgan Schneiderlin [both illness] and Theo Walcott [cramp] are expected to be in contention. Ramiro Funes Mori is fit but may miss out following Phil Jagielka’s impression performance. Ashley Williams serves the second game of his 3-match ban. Everton travel to Stoke on the back of five consecutive Premier League away defeats.
Liverpool – vs – Watford
Only Ben Woodburn is expected to miss out: “It’s still from when he was ill last week. He is still suffering from that, with cramps in his calf. That’s all.” Adam Lallana has been missing from training this week, but his absence is down to the medical department managing his return following an injury-plagued season. The midfielder is included in the England squad for the upcoming internationals. Nathaniel Clyne continues to build fitness with the U23s.
Craig Cathcart is fit enough to be considered following two weeks of training. “He wasn't an option because he wasn't in the best condition, but he is improving day by day in training with the team. He is now an option.” The Hornets have been boosted by the return of Kiko Femenía, Miguel Britos and Will Hughes in recent weeks - a sign that the team's injury problems are beginning to ease. “I am always very pleased when players recover.” said Javi Gracia. “I am happy because I have more options to choose.” Nathaniel Chalobah, Tom Cleverley, Christian Kabasele, Gerard Deulofeu, Younès Kaboul and Molla Wagué remain sidelined. “This week nobody new was training with the team,” he said. “We need to wait more time for injured players. The rest are in a process of recovery.” Heurelho Gomes is back into contention after missing the game at Arsenal for personal reasons.