Late Fitness Check: Gameweek 2

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Injury and illness continue to rip through Premier League squads as the COVID-19 virus shows no sign of abating. Player availability can be a minefield to navigate, and I've done all the hard work, so you don't need to… Updated throughout the build-up to the gameweek deadline with late and breaking team news. Thanks for following!


Mikel Arteta was unable to give any assurances over the availability of Alexandre Lacazette or Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang after they missed the opener at Brentford due to COVID-19. "It's still very uncertain," he told reporters on Friday morning. "I cannot give you any answer today because I don't know if they are going to be able to train in a few hours." The latter rejoined the group on Thursday, but Lacazette "has not been good", suggesting the game could come too soon. Elsewhere, there is no change in the Arsenal treatment room. New signing Martin Odegaard will not be available while the club hopes to have goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale registered in time for the Chelsea game.

Aston Villa

Ollie Watkins is not progressing as quickly as Dean Smith would have liked, and the striker will not be ready to face Newcastle. "I'm hopeful that he'll be back for Brentford. If not, he'll definitely be back after the international break." The Villains are also without Bertrand Traoré until game week four, after he tweaked his hamstring at Vicarage Road. Leon Bailey is in line for his first start following a solid week of training. Matt Targett comes under pressure from Ashley Young after a poor performance at Vicarage Road. Ismaila Sarr gave the full-back a torrid time before he was replaced at half-time. "He got injured [on the final day of last season] and was in a boot for six weeks," Smith explained. "So he missed the first few weeks of pre-season." Douglas Luiz rejoined the group on Monday after winning gold with Brazil at the Olympics.


Thomas Franks should have the same squad at his disposal at Selhurst Park after Kristoffer Ajer managed to shake off a minor foot injury. Matthias Jensen is training again, but he won't be involved as he builds fitness post-Euro 2020.

Brighton and Hove Albion

Joel Veltman was identified as a close contact (COVID-related) on the eve of game week one, and the defender remains unavailable for the Seagulls. There are no fresh injury concerns: Dan Burn, Danny Welbeck, and Tariq Lamptey remain out of contention, and the trio are targeting a comeback after the international break. Aaron Connolly was omitted from the matchday squad at Turf Moor due to "personal reasons", but Graham Potter confirms the matter has "been resolved", and the Irishman will return to the fold. Enock Mwepu is hoping for another start despite his withdrawal at half-time. "The football challenge for new players in the Premier League is unique! The opposition, the crowd, the physicality... Enock didn't play badly; it was a tactical decision. He wants to learn and improve and will benefit from that experience."


Dale Stephens (ankle) and Kevin Long (Achilles) remain long-term absentees, and Sean Dyche is unwilling to set a timeframe for when the pair will be ready. Although, in truth, neither player is considered a regular starter, and their absence won't hurt the Clarets too much. Aaron Lennon is back at Burnley, but there are no plans currently to sign the winger. "He is just training; we are keeping an eye on the situation on his behalf and our behalf. He wanted to come in and train; he is welcome. He has played a couple of games, and it has done him good and us good to remind ourselves of the fact he is a good player."


Thomas Tuchel confirms Romelu Lukaku will be ready after joining his new teammates on Tuesday. "We will try to prepare him to play against Arsenal, and hopefully, he can be on the pitch," he told the clubs' website. N'Golo Kanté, who missed game week one after failing to recover from the ankle injury he suffered in the Super Cup, is in line for a recall having taken part in training. After returning ahead of schedule, Hakim Ziyech can be called upon, but USMT international Christian Pulisic is out of the contest following a positive COVID-19 swab. "Thankfully, I'm fully vaccinated, and I have no symptoms so far."

Crystal Palace

Joachim Andersen and Christian Benteke impressed following their introduction at Stamford Bridge, and Patrick Vieira may bring both players into the side following last weekend's disappointing loss. That could see Cheikhou Kouyaté move out of the backline into midfield, possibly at the expense of Jairo Riedewald. Jean-Philippe Mateta would make way for Benteke. Michael Olise is "feeling better", and he will be starting to do some work on the training pitches ahead of the international break. Luka Milivojevic remains out, as do long-term casualties Nathan Ferguson and Eberechi Eze. James Tomkins has returned to the training pitches, and Conor Townsend comes into the managers' thoughts after sitting out of the game against his parent club.


Rafa Benitez confirmed the Toffees will still be missing "some players" for the short trip to Elland Road, although Moise Kean is back amongst the ranks. James Rodriguez hopes to train normally again from next week, but no update was offered on André Gomes or Jean-Philippe Gbamin.

Leeds United

Marcelo Bielsa said Kalvin Phillips is "better and closer" to a possible start after another week of work. The England international was unused against Manchester United, having played only 90-minutes across pre-season due to his involvement at the Euros. Saturday comes too soon for Diego Llorente, but the Spaniard is nearing a return: "It's probable he will have chances to compete again next week."

Leicester City

James Maddison "took a whack on his back" against Wolves, but Brendan Rodgers says the playmaker has looked "fantastic" in training. The Foxes will be more or less the same as last weekend, with Ryan Bertrand (COVID-19) still out. Leicester fans will have to wait a little longer to see the left-back make his competitive bow. Timothy Castagne is under consideration after completing his second week of training with the group, and Rodgers has a decision to make over Jannik Vestergaard, with the new signing vying for a place alongside Çaglar Soyuncu.


Jordan Henderson and Thiago Alcántara took another step closer to full fitness this week in a behind-closed-doors friendly. "They looked really good in the game and looked good in the training week, so it's up to me to make some decisions." The status of Fabinho remains unclear following the sudden loss of his father. "I would like to say it's a private situation," Jurgen Klopp said. "Fab is here and is doing what he is able to do, and that's it pretty much. We all feel for him, we all feel with him, and we give him and his family our condolences. We try to give him all the warmth, all the love we have in this moment, and that's it; the rest is private." Curtis Jones comes under consideration after completing his concussion protocol. Andy Robertson did take part in full training on Friday but the early kick-off against Burnley is expected to come too soon.

Manchester City

Ilkay Gundogan was spotted taking part in a small-sided game midweek. The German midfielder looks to have recovered from the shoulder injury he suffered late on at Tottenham. However, Guardiola reports Kevin De Bruyne had a "little disturbance" in his ankle keeping him out of training on Friday, and after his surprise appearance at Tottenham, the Belgian may have to wait a little longer to add to his 11-minute cameo. Kyle Walker, John Stones, Rodri and Gabriel Jesus are pushing for their inclusion after sitting out of the opener.

Manchester United

Alex Telles and Marcus Rashford remain on the sidelines. Dean Henderson is making progress after the effects of COVID-19, and Phil Jones had minutes against Burnley on Tuesday as he makes "big steps" towards his recovery from a long-term absence. Jesse Lingard, Edinson Cavani and Raphael Varane are all in the managers' thoughts, but Solskjaer gave nothing away. "You'll see on Sunday. They've worked well. They've had minutes. We've had a very good week ourselves. We'll see who's making the flight down to Southampton on Saturday."

Newcastle United

Joe Willock will be in the squad, although Steve Bruce would've preferred the former Arsenal player to have "more minutes" under his belt in pre-season. Jonjo Shelvey is still hampered by the calf complaint that forced him off on Sunday. Freddie Woodman will continue in goal with Karl Darlow and Martin Dúbravka a "long way off" a potential return. Darlow is struggling post-COVID while Dúbravka's foot has become infected, delaying his comeback by another few weeks. On Wednesday, Paul Dummett could return against Burnley in the League Cup, and Jamaal Lascelles is pushing to be involved after watching the West Ham defeat from the sidelines. "I just thought, physically, that was the best bet [to name him on the bench]. With another [7-10 days] of training, hopefully, we'll see the return of the captain," Bruce said post-match.

Norwich City

Przemyslaw Placheta is still feeling the after-effects of COVID-19, and although he is making progress, the Poland international is not ready for the trip to The Etihad. The only long-term injury absentee is Sam Byram (hamstring), who hasn't played since Norwich were in the Premier League last time around. Daniel Farke will check on one or two players - Christoph Zimmermann (illness) is a slight doubt, and Onel Hernández (COVID) will be a late decision.


James Ward-Prowse came through the game at Goodison Park unscathed despite missing a large chunk of pre-season with a knee injury. The ever-present skipper hasn't missed a Premier League minute for over two years! New signing Valentino Livramento has shaken off a knock, and Ralph Hasenhuttl will contemplate his options with the likes of Kyle Walker-Peters, Stuart Armstrong, Jan Bednarek and Nathan Redmond able to come into the side.

Tottenham Hotspur

Spurs could be unchanged from the win over Manchester City, but Harry Kane is pushing for a place amongst the substitutes. Nuno wasn't prepared to give anything away, suggesting that all decisions will be made on Saturday. "He trained today, he trained good, and he's going to train tomorrow, and tomorrow we will make a decision. All the players that are involved in training sessions are options for us." Cristian Romero (knee) looked to be limping out in Portugal (Europa Conference), although there was no update at the time of Fridays' media briefing as players were still being evaluated.


The Hornets are boosted by the news that Joshua King and Kiko Femenía will be available for the trip to the Amex Stadium. Full-back Femenía wasn't risked in the opener after recovering from surgery, and King has had a minor groin problem. Xisco Munoz confirms midfielder Juraj Kucka (thigh) faces a late fitness test. "We'll see for the next game. If not, maybe for sure against Tottenham." Nathaniel Chalobah is "better", but the game comes too soon. Joao Pedro continues his recovery from a knee injury, and new signing Ozan Tufan will not be ready to feature at Brighton: "I think no, we will see for the next."

West Ham United

David Moyes said the Hammers have the usual "knocks and niggles” following a win at Newcastle, but nothing that should cause serious concern. Arthur Masuaku continues to manage a persistent knee complaint. "Apart from that, I think we're pretty much okay, I think." Saïd Benrahma and Michail Antonio took the plaudits on Tyneside for a fantastic performance that had the manager gushing. "There'll be times we play them together and times we play Said in different roles, but we're really pleased with Said. We know what Mich is capable of, but Said's the one we brought to give us goals and assists, and he's started well in the Premier League, which is great for us."

Wolverhampton Wanderers

Pedro Neto (patella fracture) was nearing a return to action before a training ground setback left the 21-year-old sidelined for the remainder of the year. It could be February, at the earliest, but Bruno Lage was not prepared to give a timeline before he met with the medical department. Wolves have been training with only 15 professional players this week. Daniel Podence (groin), who went under the knife in May, should be back after the international break and Willy Boly (hamstring) has an outside chance for game week three.