The Late Fitness Check | Gameweek Thirty-five
The unpredictable nature of the run-in is notoriously tricky to navigate, with factors outside of the Premier League heavily influencing team news decisions. West Ham United, Leicester City, Manchester City and Liverpool are all deep in their respective European competitions. The question remains: not if they will rotate, but how many players will they change?
Meanwhile, mathematically anyway, there are still three relegation places to be decided, ensuring we still have a lot to play for over the coming weeks.
Thomas Partey has been keeping his Instagram followers up to date with posts from London Colney showing his work in the gym as he recovers from a thigh strain. This prompted speculation that the midfielder is on the cusp of a return. However, any suggestion of a comeback is a little wide of the mark, with Mikel Arteta confirming that he doesn’t expect to see the midfielder back this season after what he calls a “significant injury.” Bukayo Saka has recovered well, and he will be fine. Kieran Tierney is the only other notable concern as he works his way back from knee surgery.
Imaging has cleared Bertrand Traoré, and the winger is pencilled in for a return to the squad on Saturday. Ashley Young will continue to deputise for Lucas Digne (clavicle), with Emi Buendía and Danny Ings pushing for a return to the side. Kortney Hause and Morgan Sanson remain out of contention.
Christian Norgaard and Kristoffer Ajer missed the 0-0 draw with Tottenham (GW34) with respective head and shin injuries, but Thomas Frank expects both players to return given the additional recovery time. The Bees travel to Old Trafford on Monday on a four-game unbeaten run that has seen them secure another season in the top-flight. Sergi Canós and Ethan Pinnock, both hamstring, are targeting next weekend; however, there is no timeframe for Saman Ghoddas (ankle), who was injured last time out. Mathias ‘Zanka‘ Jorgensen will not play again this season, and time is running out for Frank Onyeka after he suffered a setback on international duty.
Brighton and Hove Albion
Jeremy Sarmiento has a “slight problem” in his hamstring which means he misses the game at Molineux. “Otherwise, no [new] injury problems,” reveals Graham Potter. Yves Bissouma is expected to return to the side after completing a two-match ban, and Tariq Lamptey trained on Thursday after missing the draw with Southampton due to a minor knee complaint.
“It will be a late call on Maxwel (Cornet),” Mike Jackson told reporters in his pre-match press conference. The attacker picked up a knee injury in GW33, but imaging confirms the problem is only minor. Jay Rodríguez looks set to retain his place despite the calf issue that forced him off against Wolves. He was cleared to rejoin the group on Thursday. The interim boss stressed that there are no guarantees that Ben Mee will be back before the end of the season, but “fingers crossed” he can recover to feature in the remaining fixtures. Erik Pieters is progressing, and he could be training normally from next week. Ashley Westwood has successfully undergone surgery after suffering a fracture-dislocation of his ankle, ruling him out for around four months. Johann Berg Gudmundsson is still sidelined, with no further updates offered.
Reece James and Antonio Rüdiger returned to the line-up at Old Trafford on Thursday, and Thomas Tuchel will assess both players ahead of the trip to Goodison Park as the pair have just recovered after muscle problems. Kai Havertz continues to have his minutes managed, and in Romelu Lukaku, the Blues have a readymade replacement should Tuchel want to freshen his side. Andreas Christensen (illness) is the only likely returner, with Mateo Kovacic (ankle) short of fitness. Ben Chilwell and Callum Hudson-Odoi are long-termers, while Ross Barkley faces a late test.
Palace could only share the spoils on Monday, but they were much improved after losing at Newcastle five days earlier. Tyrick Mitchell is fit again to give Patrick Vieira something to think about. Joel Ward deputised at left-back (GW34), and he was among the best performers on the night. Nathan Ferguson is the only confirmed injury, and the absence of Luka Milivojevic in recent matches has been a tactical decision.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin is back in the squad, and Yerry Mina can be called upon after he was rested in the Merseyside derby. “Ben (Godfrey) is out,” after the defender was injured during the warmup last weekend. “We would love to get him back before the end of the season,” said Frank Lampard, although it will be a close call. Donny van de Beek and André Gomes are sidelined, and Tom Davies could yet feature during the run-in despite his initial omission from the 25-man squad. The departure of Jean-Philippe Gbamin on-loan freed up a spot. “We just need to get him more training minutes and more game minutes, and hopefully, he can contribute in the latter part of the season.”
Jesse Marsch said Crysensio Summerville suffered a “twisted ankle” on the eve of the Crystal Palace game that ended his campaign prematurely. “[It’s] unfortunate because he’s been in good form. He is done for the season.” Adam Forshaw (fractured patella) won’t be back in training until June, and Tyler Roberts is progressing, although his 2021-22 is over. Patrick Bamford might return to the training pitches from next week, giving him a chance to make one or more of the remaining fixtures. “Everyone else is fully healthy.”
Timothy Castagne is available after a scan revealed no serious issues despite being taken off against Roma on Thursday. However, Brendan Rodgers has been rotating heavily around the Europa Conference League fixtures, and he may not be risked. Jamie Vardy completed another 60 minutes, and his fitness will be checked before deciding on the team for Sunday. “We’ll have to assess whether he’s fit enough to feature this weekend as a starter or come on. But it’s not just about fitness; it’s about performance.” Ryan Bertrand and Wilfried Ndidi are the only players ruled out following the return of Boubakary Soumaré.
Roberto Firmino is taking a “bit longer than we thought”, and Jurgen Klopp confirmed the Brazilian would miss out again. Konstantinos Tsimikas has recovered from the bout of illness that kept him sidelined for the Champions League tie against Villarreal, but Curtis Jones had not been involved in training at the time of Friday’s pre-match press conference.
Pep Guardiola reveals Kyle Walker remains out while John Stones is also sidelined for the game at Elland Road after he suffered a setback in the Champions League midweek. “We will see [if he can be available in Madrid],” otherwise, The Citizens should be close to full strength.
United entertain Brentford on Monday evening, and the additional recovery time will hopefully help with an ever-growing injury list. Edinson Cavani is expected to rejoin the group on Friday, but after several weeks out, his status remains unclear. Fred trained ahead of the Chelsea game, although Ralf Rangnick wasn’t taking any risks, and the Brazilian did not make the squad. Jadon Sancho is out of the next two, and he may need surgery to remove his tonsils. Despite the United boss playing down a “niggly” knee problem for Harry Maguire, some sections of the media are suggesting the centre-back could miss the remaining fixtures. Aaron Wan-Bissaka faces a late test, but Paul Pogba and Luke Shaw are out of contention for now. Jesse Lingard was not involved on Thursday amid rumours that his absence was due to a conversation with former teammate Paul Scholes in which he labelled the clubs’ dressing room “a disaster,” although there has been no official word.
“We have no fresh injuries,” said Eddie Howe at the start of Friday’s press conference. Kieran Trippier and Callum Wilson are “getting closer”, but the Liverpool game is expected to come too soon. Trippier has had one session with the team, while most of Wilson’s work is with the sports science department. There are no guarantees that Ryan Fraser will recover from injury to play any further part in the run-in. “Ryan has been out on the grass, but he’s not trained. We’re taking it careful with him as hamstring injuries are notoriously difficult. Will he play again this season? I’m not sure at this moment in time, but it’s not a serious injury.”
Joshua Sargent will train on Friday, and if he can come through the session, following a month on the sidelines, he will be in the matchday squad. Christoph Zimmermann is not available after suffering a hip flexor problem, but Lukas Rupp has trained all week after missing the defeat to Newcastle with a knee injury. Kenny McLean will have an injection as he continues to play through the pain barrier. “It’s not the big toe. It is a small fracture. It is one back in the day you will have probably taped up and got on with it, but we have got a medical department that can take the pain away. He won’t want our sympathy.”
“So far, so good,” Ralph Hasenhüttl said when asked for a team news update. “We have no new injuries other than Tino (Livramento).” The 19-year-old is scheduled for reconstructive knee surgery after imaging confirmed he ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament at The Amex Stadium last weekend. His recovery is expected to rule him out for the rest of 2022. “There are not a lot of positives we can take from this. He has absolutely shown he is a Premier League player. Hopefully, the surgery is perfect, and he will come back stronger.”
Ryan Sessegnon will get the nod again over Sergio Reguilón, who is managing a “bit of groin pain”, which the club after treating. The Spaniard was included in the squad at Brentford on Saturday, but Antonio Conte isn’t taking any risks, and he will miss this weekend’s game. Spurs confirmed earlier this week that Oliver Skipp had travelled to the United States for season-ending surgery to remedy a persistent groin problem.
An archetypal six-pointer takes place at Vicarage Road on Saturday, a game which the Hornets need to win. Thankfully, Roy Hodgson should have close to an entire squad available for the contest, with Cucho Hernandez flagged as the only notable absentee. Kiko Femenía and Juraj Kucka are pushing for recalls after missing out at The Etihad, while Josh King, Emmanuel Dennis and Ismaïla Sarr need to find their goal-scoring boots to stand any chance of beating the drop.
West Ham United
Kurt Zouma made a timely return to the Hammers side on Thursday in the Europa League following a brief spell on the sidelines with an ankle ligament injury. Initial reports had suggested the Frenchman could miss the remainder of the season, but after just 18 days, he was back to complete 90 minutes. His availability means David Moyes will have at least one centre-back available for the visit of Arsenal after Craig Dawson was dismissed during the latter stages of last weekend’s game at Stamford Bridge, which resulted in a one-match ban. Angelo Ogbonna (ACL knee) will be lucky to play again this season, while defensive teammate Issa Diop (ankle) remains out of contention.
There is no change in the Wolves’ treatment room with Max Kilman and Daniel Podence still sidelined. “We don’t count these guys for the game; try to do what we have in our hands to recover,” said Bruno Lage. Meanwhile, the game is expected to come too soon for Rúben Neves: “He was training yesterday, today not. It would be hard after six weeks to be ready to play 90 minutes as a midfielder. Let’s see what happens. It is hard to think he will return. We have to try to find the best strategy for the game and pick the best players in front of us.”