Late Fitness Check | Gameweek Twelve

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The Fantasy Premier League returns after the final international break of the year, and now is the time to make sure your side is firing on all cylinders as the fixtures ramp up during this hectic six-week period.

Arsenal

Mikel Arteta said the early return of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was NOT pre-planned and that the skipper needs checking. On a positive note, he has been working outside with the group. Thomas Partey was unable to join the national team because of a groin issue, and at the time of Fridays' press conference, Arteta said the midfielder hadn't done enough to warrant a start. Sead Kolasinac sustained a "significant injury" to his left ankle playing for Bosnia, and Granit Xhaka (knee) won't be back until early 2022.

Aston Villa

Leon Bailey and Emiliano Martinez returned unscathed following their international exploits during the Premier League hiatus. There had been concerns over Bailey after he was replaced for Jamaica on Tuesday, but post-match, it was confirmed that the winger had been suffering from cramp. Danny Ings could return following his enforced absence due to COVID-19, but new boss Steven Gerrard may have to face Brighton without Morgan Sanson, Trezeguet and Douglas Luiz. Ezri Konsa is back in contention after his ban, and the status of Marvelous Nakamba remains unclear after he picked up a muscular problem playing for Zimbabwe. Bertrand Traoré is at risk of missing out due to ongoing fitness concerns that have limited his game time to just four substitute appearances.

Brentford

Mathias Jensen (COVID-19) has returned from Denmark following a quarantine period, and Thomas Frank will make a late decision. Mathias Jorgensen' Zanka' could be added to the squad after stepping up his recovery from the muscle problem that forced him off in week eleven. Yoane Wissa is getting nearer, and forgotten man Julian Jeanvier has progressed to the next rehabilitation phase after more than 13 months out. However, he is not in full contact and, "he will still be a while." Shandon Baptiste (shoulder) is in contention, and the Bees will be hoping for good news later this month when Kristoffer Ajer will have another scan on his hamstring. "That will give us a [clearer] update on where he is and if he can return to training and matches earlier than [the] worse case."

Brighton and Hove Albion

Enock Mwepu "won't be available" for the trip to Villa Park due to a slight muscle strain, reveals Graham Potter. "He's not too bad, but it's come too soon. We're hopeful for Leeds." Aaron Connolly (heel) and Dan Burn (knee) have been training, and both players come into contention. Jason Steele makes his Premier League debut as Robert Sanchez serves a one-match ban for his dismissal last time out. Danny Welbeck and Steven Alzate remain out long-term.

Burnley

Dale Stephens played for the development side during the break as he stepped up his recovery from the surgery he had on his ankle in the summer. "He's been out on the grass [and] had another reserve game, but he is not there yet; he is getting back to real fitness," said Sean Dyche. Ashley Barnes has a "little niggle," but everyone else is fine, including Aaron Lennon, who returns after an illness.

Chelsea

Romelu Lukaku, and midfielder Mateo Kovacic will not be ready for the early kick-off. The Belgium international is "close to team training" and will hopefully be with the squad from Sunday, while Kovacic will take a little longer. Mason Mount is working normally, and Christian Pulisic is fine after representing the US Men's National Team. Thomas Tuchel is "confident" Thiago Silva will be available, having played for Brazil, but the travel and time zone differences may mean a place on the bench with an important week of football ahead. Kai Havertz (dead leg) played for Germany after colliding with advertising hoardings (GW11), and he is expected to keep his place as Timo Werner only re-joined the group on Thursday. There was no mention of Marcos Alonso, although he has been spotted at Cobham, and I suspect he will be included - his injury was described as "nothing big" before the game with Burnley.

Crystal Palace

Patrick Vieira confirms Eberechi Eze will travel with the squad to Burnley, but he insists it will take time for the midfielder to reach his pre-injury levels. "Obviously, he's a talented player, but he's still a long way to go from his best," he said. "We have to remind ourselves that he will need time, but he will get there. He is building up his confidence week after week." Joachim Andersen is also available despite missing out for Denmark over the break, but James McArthur will miss his first game after suffering a hamstring injury in training. Nathan Ferguson has stepped up his recovery with the group, and Will Hughes comes into the managers' plans after overcoming a back complaint.

Everton

The Toffees were hoping the break would ease their injury problems, but Rafa Benitez said that despite the players progressing. "They are not ready yet." Dominic Calvert-Lewin could still be a month away, but all being well, Abdoulaye Doucouré should only be another fortnight at most. "The bone has to heal, so I think in one week or two weeks maximum, he can be fine if we don't have problems." Yerry Mina and André Gomes are out of the trip to The Etihad through injury, while Mason Holgate begins a three-match ban. There was no update offered on Tom Davies despite the midfielder being on crutches with his right knee in a protective brace.

Leeds United

Patrick Bamford and Luke Ayling remain on the sidelines, and Marcelo Bielsa left us none the wiser about when either player will be ready to return. "They're not available for the game on Sunday. When my responses are brief, it's because I can't offer certainty." Júnior Firpo is "evolving" and could get minutes with the Under-23s, and Jamie Shackleton is entering the final phase of his recovery. Robin Koch (hip surgery) is the furthest away of those currently sidelined.

Leicester City

A calf complaint will keep Youri Tielemans out until next month, but Brendan Rodgers remains optimistic that he will return before Christmas. James Justin (ACL knee) is nearing a comeback after more than nine months on the sidelines, although his return will not be rushed, and the 23-year-old will build fitness with the development side before being considered for the first team. "We have a plan in place. He's physically very strong; he's a real athlete. We just want to make sure he's ready before he comes in." Wesley Fofana is well ahead of schedule, and the centre-back could be involved much sooner than expected. "He's absolutely devoted everything into his rehabilitation, he's still got a way to go, but he's doing very well." There was no word on Ryan Bertrand (knee), but Marc Albrighton is in contention after missing the last month. Meanwhile, Jonny Evans was singled out for praise following his recent return. "He brings authority to the game. He's a winner. Having him available is important. He's now at the stage of his career where it's about playing and recovering, so we'll try to manage that."

Liverpool

Jurgen Klopp said Andrew Robertson "was lucky" to escape serious injury after pulling up with a hamstring issue. "It was a little bit [of] DOMS, the intensity of all the games he played probably, rather than anything else. He was smart enough to [make] the right decision; he went off early, which he usually is not doing." But with the Champions League next week, Robertson could be protected considering Konstantinos Tsimikas' impressive performances earlier in the season. Jordan Henderson is managing a minor adductor issue, and if he does miss out, he should return midweek. There are no issues other than pain management for Sadio Mané (ribs), but the Reds will be without Joe Gomez. "He is in a good way, and it looks pretty good. It was clear he will need a few weeks, and that's still [the case]; the rehab is not finished." Naby Keita and James Milner are "getting closer", and they could return to team training next week. "Let's see what that means for the Porto game – but not for the weekend." Roberto Firmino will take a "little bit longer still", and Curtis Jones is "completely fine" physically, but his eye is still recovering.

Manchester City

The international break has not been kind to City, and Pep Guardiola reveals he could be missing up to seven players for the visit of Everton. Jack Grealish is "getting better" after picking up a knock against Albania, but the game is expected to come too soon. Phil Foden was also injured playing for England, but with one more session still to go, the City boss will give him every opportunity to prove his fitness. "Phil came back with a knock and a problem in his leg, but he is getting better and, we will see." Kevin De Bruyne, however, is ruled out after testing positive for COVID-19. Aymeric Laporte returns after serving a one-match ban.

Manchester United

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer admits he is managing some "illness" and "small niggles" ahead of the trip to Vicarage Road. Scott McTominay reveals he has recovered from a throat infection, and Luke Shaw should be okay after completing his concussion protocol. Edinson Cavani is managing a tendon problem that is likely to keep him sidelined. Paul Pogba and Raphael Varane are "out for a while", but everyone else is hopeful of returning over the next week.

Newcastle United

Paul Dummett is the only listed casualty for Eddie Howe, who could make changes with a full squad to choose from. Former Bournemouth trio Callum Wilson, Ryan Fraser and Matt Ritchie are all well-placed, while the new boss admits he has been impressed with Jonjo Shelvey and Joelinton. Martin Dúbravka is fully fit and pushing for his first start after recovering from foot surgery. Miguel Almirón met Howe for the first time on Friday, indicating that the Paraguay international is poised for a place on the bench.

Norwich City

Only Christoph Zimmermann (ankle surgery) is absent for Dean Smith's first game in charge. However, Sam Byram will feature for the Under-23s, having last played in February 2020 due to a persistent hamstring issue. Todd Cantwell and Billy Gilmour, frozen out under Daniel Farke, should benefit most from the new appointment with Grant Hanley and Ozan Kabak pushing for a recall.

Southampton

Ralph Hasenhüttl confirms the Saints have close to a full squad for Saturday, with only long-term absentee Jack Stephens sidelined for the trip to Norwich. James Ward-Prowse, Tino Livramento and Armando Broja, who all withdrew from their respective national teams over the break, have been cleared. Nathan Redmond is also in contention after missing the win over Aston Villa due to a positive COVID-19 result.

Tottenham Hotspur

Cristian Romero picked up a hamstring injury playing for Argentina, and Antonio Conte admits the prognosis is bad. "Unfortunately, it's not a good one. We have bad news about his injury," he mused. "We spoke with the doctor, now is right to wait 7-10 days for another scan to understand how long he needs to recover." Giovani Lo Celso was also injured during the same game (vs Brazil), but he could still make Sundays' fixture. "The rest are fine," which hopefully includes Pierre-Emile Højbjerg, who was on the receiving end of Mason Holgate's red card challenge (GW11).

Watford

Turkish midfielder Ozan Tufan faces a late fitness test after picking up a knock while on international duty, and Claudio Ranieri will be hoping for good news with Peter Etebo (thigh) and Juraj Kucka (banned) out of contention. The Hornets will again be without Francisco Sierralta (hamstring), who suffered a setback for Chile, and Christian Kabasele is still a few weeks off joining the group. Ken Sema (MCL knee) will look to begin running outside in around 7-10 days, but Kwadwo Baah is set for a much longer spell out following ankle surgery.

West Ham United

"At the moment, everybody looks okay," David Moyes said when asked for an update on his returning internationals. "We're still assessing people because most of them only came back yesterday (Thursday)." Pablo Fornals missed Spain's second World Cup qualifier while Tomas Soucek was an unused substitute for the Czech Republic versus Estonia, prompting speculation that he might be injured. Michail Antonio has returned unscathed after scoring in back-to-back games for Jamaica. Angelo Ogbonna will play no further part this season after a specialist confirmed he would need his anterior cruciate ligament surgically repaired. "We think [it] will take place over the next couple of days, and it's really sad because he's a great team player, and his performances have been great." Craig Dawson is the player most likely to step in alongside Kurt Zouma.

Wolverhampton Wanderers

Raúl Jiménez returned on Thursday afternoon - having featured for Mexico in the games against the United States and Canada - and Bruno Lage insists he won't be taking any risks this weekend. "He trained [Friday], so now we're going to take the best decision for tomorrow." Fernando Marcal is back in contention after missing the last three games due to a calf injury. However, the Wolves boss reveals that any involvement will come from the bench. "For the moment, I trust [Ait-Nouri], so we will start Rayan." The remainder of the treatment room remains the same.