Late Fitness Check | FPL Gameweek 28

Ben Dinnery
Rotoworld

A reduced slate and a Friday night fixture combine to complicate FPL matters in game week twenty-eight.

Only six press conferences down which means we still have a ton of team news to wade through, so make sure you're following throughout.

Good luck, and don't get caught by the early deadline!

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

 

Norwich City – vs – Leicester City

Daniel Farke confirms Onel Hernández has undergone knee surgery and the winger will miss at least eight weeks. "It's the end of the season for Sam Byram, and it doesn't look great for Onel Hernández. He could be back, but we must wait to see how it develops. He missed three months at the start of the season when he slipped down the stairs, and it's the same injury (lateral meniscus)." Christoph Zimmermann remains out due to a "muscle strain" so Ben Godfrey keeps his place while Timm Klose is "not too far" from a return to full training. "I hope soon we can integrate him into that."

Hamza Choudhury returns after suspension and gives Brendan Rodgers another option, but the Leicester boss could stick with Dennis Praet. "I thought he was outstanding in the game (vs Man City). Every time he's played, he's been good or excellent. He's not naturally a defensive midfielder, but he has the discipline. He tracked runners and filled the space." A late decision will be made on Wilfried Ndidi who is working with the group again. "If he's not ready, we'll look at him for next week. He's making great progress." Kelechi Iheanacho was left feeling a bit "groggy" following a heavy collision with Ederson last Saturday, but the Leicester frontman has been working through the concussion protocol, and he will be available at Carrow Road.

 

Brighton and Hove Albion – vs – Crystal Palace

Dale Stephens has trained this week after recovering from a hamstring strain, and his availability for Saturdays' early kick-off means that José Izquierdo "is the only one who is out", and there are no guarantees he will play this season. Graham Potter insists that new signings - Alexis Mac Allister and Tariq Lamptey - are ready to step up if selected for the game against Palace as the Seagulls search for their first win of 2020. Ezequiel Schelotto has battled back from an ACL injury and shown "lots of guts and character" but his minutes will be managed after starting two games already this month.

Mamadou Sakho has been spotted on the training pitches, but having missed the previous two months, it seems highly unlikely that Roy Hodgson would risk the centre-back from the start and the best he could hope for is a place on the bench. Scott Dann, therefore, is expected to deputise for James Tomkins who will be sidelined for "weeks rather than days" due to a hamstring strain. Luka Milivojevic should return after missing the win over Newcastle; the skipper was suffering from a bout of sickness which had swept through the Palace camp. His replacement in GW27 – Cheikhou Kouyaté – picked up an ankle injury, and while the problem is not thought to be serious, he could find himself out of the XI.

 

AFC Bournemouth – vs – Chelsea

Nathan Ake is back in contention after suffering a "very mild concussion" following a kick to the head in training. Eddie Howe made three changes at Turf Moor (GW27), but the switch in personnel did not alter the predicted outcome with the home side comfortably taking three-points. Only Norwich and West Ham have a worse record over ten games. Lloyd Kelly, Chris Mepham and Arnaut Danjuma are amongst a small group of players who won't be too far away, but given their length of absence, none will be ready in terms of fitness. David Brooks enjoyed one of his best weeks of training in recent times, but the Welshman still has a long way to go before he can be considered for a return. Injury and suspension have prevented Jefferson Lerma from playing since February 01, and a rib issue threatens to keep him out.  

Ahead of the Champions League tie with Bayern Munich, Frank Lampard confirmed that Christian Pulisic, N'Golo Kanté and Callum Hudson-Odoi would all miss the European fixture although the latter won't be too far away from a return. The Blues were on the receiving end of a masterclass from the Bundesliga leaders, and they will be looking to bounce back on Saturday on a ground they lost 4-0 earlier this year. Pedro is in contention, but Ruben Loftus-Cheek, who was a surprise inclusion in the 18 last weekend, could feature for the development side as he looks to build fitness. Tammy Abraham pulled up during the post-match warm down after his 30-minute cameo and his availability hangs in the balance. That should see Olivier Giroud leading the frontline once again.

 

Newcastle United – vs – Burnley

Steve Bruce said it was time to work on a new game plan following the defeat at Selhurst Park, and the United boss has stayed true to his word with Jamaal Lascelles confirming to local reporters that there has been a switch in tactics: "We've made a few changes, the lads have had to adapt to a different style of play which might take a little while to bed in but hopefully now two games is enough and we can get a win." Patience with Joelinton is said to be wearing a little thin, and with 16 days training under his belt, Dwight Gayle could be handed his third league start of the campaign. Jonjo Shelvey is hoping to return after a hamstring strain while Christian Atsu is training following illness. This weekend is too soon for Andy Carroll, but the striker is hoping to be back in GW29, possibly around the same time as Emil Krafth. Newcastle will need to make at least one enforced change with Valentino Lazaro suspended after his dismissal for hauling down Wilfried Zaha in the dying moments.

Sean Dyche confirms Ashley Barnes is continuing with his rehabilitation and the striker is "making progress", but he is not with the group yet. Chris Wood will be in contention, but in his absence, Matej Vydra has stepped up – two in two – and the New Zealand international may have to settle for a place on the bench. Johann Berg Gudmundsson has a "minor niggle", and frustratingly, the winger looks set to miss out again as his injury-hampered year continues. Matt Lowton will not be available as he struggles to overcome the knee problem - inflammation - which has kept him out since the beginning of the month.

 

West Ham United – vs – Southampton

David Moyes revealed that Czech midfielder Tomas Soucek sustained an adductor injury overstretching at Anfield on Monday. Fortunately, imaging confirmed that the setback was a "low-grade injury" which is likely to keep him out for approximately three weeks. The club also confirmed that Ryan Fredericks had undergone surgery and the full-back is not expected to be available again until early-to-mid April. Andriy Yarmolenko is taking part in elements of training, but he is "still a bit off" while Robert Snodgrass looked as though he might have picked up a knock against Liverpool, although there have been no reports. Moyes' pre-match press briefing is scheduled for Friday lunchtime.

The injury situation "looks good" overall Ralph Hasenhüttl revealed. Kyle Walker-Peters has trained after recovering from a minor calf issue and comes back into contention. Nathan Redmond, however, is still out, but hopefully, he can return next month. "Maybe after the international break he can play again." Moussa Djenepo looks likely to miss out after the passing of his mother. "Our thoughts are with him," the Saints boss said at the end of the broadcast section in Thursdays' press conference. However, there have been reports that the Mali international will travel back to his homeland.

 

Watford – vs – Liverpool

Nigel Pearson says Kiko Femenía is being carefully managed given his recent injury issues, and the full-back may not be risked on Saturday: "Kiko trained with us, but he has a history of hamstring problems and he had not done enough to be ready to play [at Old Trafford last weekend]. He's fit, but there is a difference between being fit and match ready." Ismaïla Sarr, meanwhile, is "much closer" to starting after his 20-minute run out at Old Trafford. The return of Daryl Janmaat to the training pitches means that the Watford squad is back to full strength. "We don't have any injury doubts for this week."

James Milner missed the come-from-behind win over West Ham on Monday due to a slight muscle strain, and his availability at Vicarage Road remains unclear. Jordan Henderson (hamstring) and Xherdan Shaqiri (calf) will miss out as the pair target a return by mid-March. Nathaniel Clyne (ACL knee) remains a long-term absentee.

 

Everton – vs – Manchester United

Carlo Ancelotti was impressed by the performance of André Gomes at The Emirates, and the Toffees boss insists: "He will start the next game." Lucas Digne complained of muscle discomfort on the eve of the Arsenal clash and was withdrawn from the travelling squad as a precaution, but he should return. Theo Walcott is also expected to overcome the knee complaint, which prevented him from lining up against his former employers.

United eased past Club Brugge on Thursday which allowed Ole to make a few early changes on the night. Bruno Fernandes was once again the standout while Scott McTominay grabbed a goal on his return. Solskjaer said there had been a "couple of knocks" in training on Wednesday, but failed to name individuals, although it became evident when the squad was announced 24 hours later as Odion Ighalo was handed his full debut with Anthony Martial missing: "He didn't feel right after training yesterday, or he walked off during training. He's injured." A decision on the Frenchman will be made after the final session on Saturday. Timothy Fosu-Mensah and Axel Tuanzebe "need to play" in a reserve or behind-closed-doors game before they can make a first-team appearance. No surprise to see Paul Pogba, Marcus Rashford and Lee Grant absent from the sessions this week, none of the trio are expected back anytime soon.

 

Tottenham Hotspur – vs – Wolverhampton Wanderers 

José Mourinho wasn't impressed with Dele Alli's reaction at being subbed in the Champions League, and the 23-year-old, who landed himself in hot water with the Football Association recently, was restricted to a 12-minute cameo at Stamford Bridge. In a bad week, Alli has also been charged with misconduct for a breach of FA Rule E3 over his social media post regarding the coronavirus outbreak. He has until Thursday, March 05, to respond. Ryan Sessegnon was a late withdrawal at Chelsea due to muscular tightness, and realistically he would be the only potential returner with Harry Kane and Heung-Min Son out long-term. Moussa Sissoko is ahead of schedule in his recovery following knee surgery, and Mourinho feels that "in normal conditions" he should be back by the end of March or the beginning of April. Juan Foyth has entered the final phase of his recovery.

Nuno Espírito Nuno made five changes in Spain on Thursday with the tie all but over following a 4-0 win over Espanyol at Molineux. Ruben Vinagre played 58 minutes in his first start since January with Jonny currently sidelined with an ankle injury. "We have to evaluate because he had a strong kick. He's in pain, but he's going through the normal procedures, and hopefully, he doesn't stay out very long." Adama Traoré was also back in the starting XI, but the speedster hasn't started in the league since his partial shoulder dislocation at Old Trafford (GW25), and the Spaniard may begin the game watching from the sidelines.

What to Read Next